Mesothelioma Legal Issues

Mesothelioma is a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos particles in the air can be inhaled or ingested, which lead to cancerous growths in the tissues covering the internal organs, particularly the lungs and the abdominal organs.

As mesothelioma is caused by environmental exposure to this dangerous material, affected individuals may have certain legal rights. Those affected may hire a mesothelioma lawyer and receive compensation if they were exposed to asbestos, particularly while completing occupational duties. For some individuals with mesothelioma, law firms have helped them to receive damages from their companies.

Mesothelioma and Asbestos Law Milestones

Several lawsuits and mesothelioma lawyers have paved the way for asbestos law, and for individuals to receive compensation for exposure to asbestos on the job:

  • Bell vs. Dresser Industries Inc.: A group of Alabama laborers sued both their employer and the asbestos manufacturer. They were successful, and this was one of the largest asbestos law settlements to date in the United States.
  • Borel vs. Fibreboard Paper Products Corp.: This case provided a foothold for future asbestos law. It made manufacturers responsible for providing product warnings for asbestos products, and instituted product liability for manufacturers of asbestos products.
  • United States vs. W.R. Grace: W.R. Grace was also brought to court for exposing the residents of Libby, MT to asbestos from city mines. This was one of the first asbestos cases to be tried in criminal (rather than civil) court.
  • Waters vs. W.R. Grace: This case was brought against a company who had faced previous asbestos lawsuits. It set the groundwork for decisions regarding whether a company should have to pay punitive damages in successive cases, as well as compensatory damages. The court ruled that there should be no limit on punitive damages a company should have to pay from damages caused by negligence.

In these cases of asbestos disease such as mesothelioma, attorneys helped their clients to receive compensation for their exposure and disease. For individuals with mesothelioma, lawyer representation can help to uphold asbestos law, and hold their employers responsible, with these cases as precedent.

Veterans exposed to asbestos during military service cannot use a mesothelioma lawyer and file suits against the government. However, they can file for benefits through the department of Veterans’ Affairs. In order to receive benefits, veterans must be able to prove that their asbestos exposure occurred during their military service, and not as a result of exposure through civilian employment.

Current Asbestos Laws on Exposure

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) passed legislation in 1989 banning new uses of asbestos. However, the material continues to be used in existing applications. Workers may also still be exposed to asbestos in existing structures or products. As a result, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates exposure levels and protections for employees.

Resources

Asbestos Resource Staff. (n.d.). Asbestos lawsuits: Bell vs. dresser industries incorporated. Retrieved January 7, 2010, from the Asbestos Resource Web site: http://www.asbestosresource.com/litigation/bell.html.

Asbestos Resource Staff. (n.d.). Asbestos lawsuits: Borel vs. fibreboard corporation. Retrieved January 7, 2010, from the Asbestos Resource Web site: http://www.asbestosresource.com/litigation/borel.html.

Asbestos Resource Staff. (n.d.). Asbestos lawsuits: Waters vs. W.R. Grace. Retrieved January 7, 2010, from the Asbestos Resource Web site: http://www.asbestosresource.com/litigation/waters.html.

Asbestos Veterans Assistance Information League Staff. (n.d.). Veterans affairs claims for asbestos exposure. Retrieved January 7, 2010, from the AVAIL Web site: http://www.availusa.org/2web/3_3.htm.

Mesothelioma Adviser Staff. (n.d.). Asbestos litigation-6000 companies sued to date! Retrieved January 7, 2010, from the Mesothelioma Adviser Web site: http://www.mesothelioma-adviser.com/asbestos-litigation.html.

Mesothelioma and Asbestos Awareness Center Staff. (n.d.). Mesothelioma lawyer. Retrieved January 7, 2010, from the Mesothelioma and Asbestos Awareness Center Web site: http://www.maacenter.org/mesothelioma/lawyer/.