The mineral asbestos is composed of long, thin fibers that can break and enter the surrounding air. People can inhale these fibers without even realizing it, potentially leading to major health conditions over a long period of time. Historically, some of the most common asbestos exposure areas have been mines, factories, offices, and even people’s homes.
Tragically, while workers and consumers may not have realized the dangers they were facing, other parties sometimes did. Shocking legal trials have revealed that certain employers and manufacturers were aware of asbestos’s link to life-threatening diseases like the cancer mesothelioma. It seems that for some, the economic benefits of using such a low-cost and durable substance like asbestos outweighed the human cost of damaged health and lost lives.
Over the years, some victims of such negligence have chosen to fight back by filing legal claims against the parties responsible for their injuries. When successful, these claims have allowed mesothelioma victims and their families to win compensation for medical bills, lost income, wrongful death, and other losses. Perhaps more importantly, they have exposed negligent corporations and raised awareness of the health risks of asbestos.
Early Asbestos Litigation
The first US asbestos injury claim was filed by a worker in Beaumont, Texas named Claude Tomplait. He had developed a form of lung disease called asbestosis after working with asbestos in a variety of ways for many years. His lawsuit targeted 11 asbestos manufacturers, claiming that his working conditions had caused his illness. Unfortunately, Tomplait lost his case. However, his attorney, Ward Stephenson, continued his efforts to bring negligent companies to justice.
He had success a few years later, representing a co-worker of Tomplait named Clarence Borel. In Borel’s 1969 case, the jury found in favor of the plaintiff and awarded him about $80,000. Later cases filed by injured asbestos workers were also successful, as asbestos attorneys continued to uncover evidence that many employers had been deliberately negligent in protecting their workers.
A major breakthrough occurred in 1974, when another asbestosis victim named Reba Rudkin filed a claim against her former employer Johns-Manville. While investigating her claim, her attorney Steven Kazan found letters proving that several companies had knowingly conspired to hide evidence of the dangers asbestos posed to workers. In the following years, this evidence helped many victims of asbestos exposure receive compensation for their suffering.
Asbestos Litigation Today
Today, people who have become ill or injured because their employers failed to protect them from asbestos exposure continue to seek justice. Under federal law, all employers have a responsibility to ensure that their workers are reasonably safe while on the job. If they do fail to accomplish this, they can sometimes be held accountable for resulting damages.
However, successfully filing an asbestos lawsuit is not easy. To be successful, plaintiffs must have a reasonable level of evidence that their conditions were directly caused by asbestos exposure, which in turn was directly caused by corporate negligence. Anyone considering a mesothelioma or asbestosis lawsuit needs educational and useful asbestos resources to help in this struggle.