Are Illinois Courts Overturning Asbestos Lawsuit Rulings?

The Illinois court system may be making some fundamental changes to the way it rules on asbestos and mesothelioma lawsuits, and the changes may not all be good.

A recent Forbes article focusing on asbestos lawsuits in Illinois reported on a recent state appeals court ruling that overturned a $2.5 million jury verdict against Honeywell and Pneumo Abex. The settlement had been awarded to a woman with mesothelioma that she said had been caused by asbestos fibers that were tracked into the house by her husband, a worker at Union Rubber & Asbestos Co. in the 1950s.

Union Rubber & Asbestos has been out of business for some time and so it could not be the basis of a lawsuit. Instead,  two other companies in the same “trade group” – Pneumo Abex and Honeywell – were named in the lawsuit. Both Pneumo Abex and Honeywell used to make asbestos brake shoes.

At the time, Illinois state laws allowed for a judgment in the woman’s favor after a jury found both companies guilty of civil conspiracy. The ruling stated that both companies – along with many others in the same trade group that used asbestos – had allowed for asbestos use by employees to continue by acting in “parallel conduct” with Union Rubber & Asbestos Co. Therefore, each company could be held accountable for the woman’s illness and forced to pay a settlement.

The ruling turned out to be short-lived. The appeals court eventually stepped in and threw the case out  after reasoning that the companies did not know that workers could carry asbestos fibers home on their clothes back in the 1950s and therefore could not have committed a civil conspiracy.

Since that decision, other asbestos lawsuit rulings, including a $90 million verdict in March that also involves Pneumo Abex and Honeywell, have been brought up for review and could potentially be reversed as well. We remain hopeful that any implications of this ruling will not prevent mesothelioma victims from getting the day in court they deserve against the asbestos companies that harmed them.

Living with the day-to-day hardships of mesothelioma – whether it is you or a loved one who has been diagnosed with the illness – is both emotionally and financially taxing for all who are involved. If you feel that a company or former employer may be responsible for the asbestos exposure that led to an illness, contact a mesothelioma attorney to learn about filing a mesothelioma lawsuit.