Why Do Some Mesothelioma Lawsuits Fail?

Filing a mesothelioma claim can help victims receive the compensation they deserve for the harm caused by negligent companies. However, mesothelioma lawsuits can fail when the victim is unable to provide sufficient proof to support their claim against the asbestos-containing product producers.

Media Attention Highlights Varying Verdicts in Mesothelioma Trails

Recently, Johnson & Johnson® has received significant media attention surrounding claims that their talc powder contains cancer-causing asbestos. These accusations are bringing public awareness to the reality of mesothelioma lawsuits that go to trial. Unfortunately for victims, several of these trials rule in favor of the defendant.

Thousands of people have filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, arguing that their products have caused mesothelioma and other forms of cancer. Several of these cases have been successful at trial, resulting in victims being awarded millions of dollars in compensation. Last summer, the company was ordered to pay $4.7 billion to 22 women who claimed to develop ovarian cancer from the talc-based products.

However, many similar cases have awarded the win to the asbestos product manufacturers or distributors. For example, one woman with mesothelioma lost her lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson in 2017. Judges have also thrown out several previously awarded verdicts during appeals. Ford Motor Company, known to use asbestos in their brakes and engine parts, has also had lawsuits filed against them by mesothelioma victims ruled in their favor.

This inconsistency between verdicts can be extremely confusing and disheartening for mesothelioma victims. Although no lawsuit is a sure win, an experienced legal team can help victims compile the evidence they need for a successful case.

Victims Face Difficulty Pinning the Blame on a Specific Company

Since mesothelioma can take 10 to 50 years to develop after asbestos fibers are inhaled or ingested, it’s difficult to prove that specific products or work environments were the cause. It gets even trickier when companies have changed their practices, product ingredients or work conditions over time.

Many companies, including Ford and Johnson & Johnson, deny the claims made by mesothelioma victims. A lot of the time, there isn’t enough evidence that the company’s products alone exposed the victim to enough asbestos to cause their mesothelioma.

Defense lawyers frequently argue that there is just no way to know that the mesothelioma victim was only ever exposed to asbestos from their client’s products.

The lengthy time frame between asbestos exposure and a subsequent mesothelioma diagnosis gives defending companies the opportunity to point fingers elsewhere. Their aggressive lawyers put the blame on possible alternative sources of asbestos the victim may have encountered throughout their life. Even if you’ve never been exposed to asbestos in any other situation, it’s tough to prove this in court.

The Burden of Proof Falls on the Victim

In a lawsuit, the burden of proof falls on the person who is making a claim. It is up to the plaintiff—the mesothelioma victim in this case—to convince a judge or jury that what they’re claiming is true.

People who are filing mesothelioma lawsuits need to have strong evidence that their disease is the direct fault of the company in question. Being able to prove your work history with the company may not be enough to win a lawsuit. You must show the company exposed you to a sufficient amount of asbestos to cause the disease.

Judges and juries may rule in favor of the defendant when evidence is insufficient. An $11-million verdict in an asbestos-related case against Ford was dismissed last year for this reason. Though the plaintiff may have worked with asbestos-containing products, according to the appeal panel, his evidence was not strong enough to link his mesothelioma to asbestos from Ford’s products.

Fortunately, attorneys experienced in mesothelioma and asbestos know how to establish the evidence a victim needs for a successful case. An experienced legal team will conduct thorough research to assess whether or not there is enough evidence to support a claim in court. If a plaintiff’s lawyer decides that their case is too weak for a lawsuit, they will suggest alternative options for compensation.

Working with a competent legal team will take most of the pressure off of you so you can focus on your health. Though lawsuits can be tricky and complicated, it’s crucial that we hold these companies accountable for the harm they have caused.

Author:Stephanie Kidd

Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Justice Network

Stephanie Kidd

Stephanie Kidd works tirelessly as a dedicated advocate for the vulnerable and underrepresented. Stephanie worked as a copywriter for an agency whose focus was communicating safety procedures on construction work sites. With her extensive background in victim advocacy and a dedication to seeing justice done, Stephanie works hard to ensure that all online content is reliable, truthful and helpful.

Last modified: May 29, 2019

View 5 Sources
  1. “Johnson & Johnson wins California lawsuit claiming asbestos in talc caused cancer” Reuters. Retrieved from https://www.reuters.com/article/us-johnson-johnson-cancer-lawsuit/johnson-johnson-wins-california-lawsuit-claiming-asbestos-in-talc-caused-cancer-idUSKBN1DG2PK. Accessed on February 6, 2019.
  2. “Johnson & Johnson Feared Baby Powder’s Possible Asbestos Link for Years” The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/14/business/baby-powder-asbestos-johnson-johnson.html. Accessed on February 6, 2019.
  3. “Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay record $4.7bn damages over talc cancer lawsuit” Independent. Retrieved from https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/talcum-powder-cancer-johnson-and-johnson-damages-lawsuit-ovarian-causes-asbestos-a8445286.html. Accessed on February 6, 2019.
  4. “Companies Earn Major Win In NYC Asbestos Case, Also Fighting 'Ploy' Of Plaintiffs Lawyers” Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/legalnewsline/2018/12/06/companies-earn-important-victory-in-nyc-asbestos-case-also-fighting-ploy-of-plaintiffs-lawyers/#7b13cc8d3093. Accessed on February 6, 2019.
  5. “Court affirms dismissal of verdict against Ford in asbestos case” Business Insurance. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsurance.com/article/20181128/NEWS06/912325334. Accessed on February 6, 2019.