Asbestos mass torts represent a unique and complex facet of the U.S. legal system. With roots dating back several decades, this form of litigation has evolved significantly over time, reflecting the changing landscape of the American industrial sector and the growing understanding of asbestos-related health risks.
For legal assistance, contact Class Action Lawyer Coalition for a free consultation.
Understanding Asbestos Mass Tort Lawsuits
Asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral once widely used in construction and manufacturing for its heat-resistant properties, has been linked to serious health issues such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis.
Mass tort cases arise when multiple individuals file lawsuits against one or more defendants, typically asbestos manufacturers or companies responsible for asbestos exposure. These cases are consolidated to streamline legal proceedings and ensure a more efficient resolution for the numerous plaintiffs seeking compensation for their injuries.
The Largest Mass Tort in U.S. History
Asbestos litigation holds the record for being the most extensive mass tort in the history of the United States. By 2002, lawsuits related to asbestos had been filed by approximately 730,000 individuals against over 8,400 different businesses.
The estimated cost to resolve these claims was a staggering $70 billion. The 1990s saw a fourfold increase in the number of claims, and in the year 2000 alone, a dozen large companies reported that they were the target of 520,000 new claims.
The Evolution of Asbestos Litigation
The evolution of asbestos litigation reflects a series of shifts in focus from one group of defendants to another. In the beginning, the main parties held accountable were those involved in mining, supplying raw asbestos, and manufacturing thermal insulation.
However, as these companies went bankrupt due to the financial strain of lawsuits, attention turned towards those who produced or supplied products and fittings used in heating systems in residences, commercial establishments, industries, and ships.
Recently, there has been a surge in claims related to injuries allegedly caused by structures similar to asbestos found in talcum powder. Presently, manufacturers or suppliers who incorporate talc into their products are frequently implicated in these cases.
The Impact on Companies
The financial impact on companies involved in asbestos litigation has been significant. By 2003, asbestos liabilities had led to the bankruptcy of 73 corporations. In recent times, there seems to be a growing trend of including medium and small-sized manufacturing companies in the roster of regular defendants in asbestos cases.
The Role of Lawyers in Asbestos Mass Torts
Lawyers play a pivotal role in asbestos-related mass torts, acting as the primary intermediaries between the plaintiffs and the defendants. Their roles are diverse and go beyond the confines of the courtroom, involving elements of case administration, advising clients, and negotiation.
Lawyers are responsible for managing the legal proceedings for the plaintiff. This involves gathering evidence, filing legal documents, and representing the plaintiff in court. In the context of asbestos litigation, this often requires a deep understanding of both the medical and industrial aspects of asbestos exposure.
Lawyers also offer guidance to their clients, suggesting the most suitable course of action tailored to their unique situations. This could involve deciding whether to settle or proceed to trial. Given the complexity and duration of asbestos litigation, this advice is crucial in helping plaintiffs navigate the legal process.
Another key role of lawyers in asbestos litigation is negotiation. If a settlement is considered, lawyers will negotiate with the defendants on behalf of the plaintiff. This requires a strategic approach and a thorough understanding of the value of the claim.
Call Today for a Free Consultation
Despite its long history and significant impact on the U.S. legal system and economy, asbestos litigation shows no signs of slowing down. For further legal assistance, contact Class Action Lawyer Coalition at 855-938-0980 for a free consultation.