What Is a Mesothelioma Class-Action Lawsuit?
A mesothelioma class-action lawsuit took place when one person (or a small group of people) brought a lawsuit against the manufacturers of asbestos-containing products on behalf of a larger group.
One person serves as the representative for the case, but dozens or even hundreds of people can take part in the lawsuit. If the representative won the lawsuit, then everyone else in the class received compensation as well.
Class-action lawsuits were just one of the many types of legal action taken by mesothelioma victims, but they are almost never used today for a variety of reasons.
Prior to the late 1990s, it was believed that class-action lawsuits could award mesothelioma victims fairly. For example, if 1,000 people were exposed to asbestos by the same products and developed the same condition — mesothelioma — they should, in theory, be awarded the same amount of money.
Yet class-action lawsuits only work when every person has suffered the same exact injuries from the same defendant, according to Cornell University’s Legal Information Institute.
Further, class-action lawsuits usually cannot award mesothelioma victims with enough compensation to help them after a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Because of these issues, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in 1997 that asbestos cases could no longer be heard as class-action lawsuits on a federal level.
Quick Facts About Mesothelioma Class-Action Lawsuits
- Today, mesothelioma class-action lawsuits are almost never filed. Those looking to take legal action usually need to file an individual mesothelioma personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.
- As of 2020, mesothelioma class-action lawsuits can only be filed with state courts.
- Some class-action lawsuits sought to represent hundreds, thousands, or millions of victims exposed to asbestos.
- Class-action lawsuits pay the same amount of money to every claimant. While this helps ensure fairness, victims may be able to receive more through other types of legal action.