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Mesothelioma Class Action Lawsuit

Mesothelioma lawsuits can be handled several different ways, including as an individual lawsuit or through multidistrict litigation and class action lawsuits. A class action lawsuit allows a group of individuals with the same or similar injuries to take legal action together against a defendant.

There are several benefits to filing a class action lawsuit, and an experienced mesothelioma lawyer can advise what the best option is for your individual case. A major benefit is that patients and their families may be able to receive a much larger amount of compensation than if their case was handled individually.

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Defining Mesothelioma Class Actions

The two primary types of mesothelioma lawsuits are personal injury claims filed by mesothelioma patients and wrongful death claims filed by surviving loved ones. The goal of these lawsuits is to gain financial assistance for travel costs, medical expenses and other fees that come with a mesothelioma diagnosis. In most cases, a mesothelioma settlement is reached between the claimant and the defendant. However, if you choose to pursue a lawsuit it can be handled in many different ways, including as a class action.

A class action is a civil suit in which multiple plaintiffs who have similar claims are represented by a single member of the class. For mesothelioma cases, plaintiffs are patients or surviving family members looking to file a mesothelioma lawsuit as a result of asbestos exposure. Trying many classes as part of a single class action lawsuit could potentially result in many advantages, such as:

Not all mesothelioma claims are best handled as part of a class action lawsuit. Connecting with a mesothelioma law firm can allow you to explore all of your legal options and find what’s best for your case. If you’re considering pursuing legal action, it’s important to do so right away as each state has a statute of limitations, requiring you to file a certain amount of time after diagnosis or death.

Class Action vs. Mass Tort

Class action lawsuits are often confused with mass torts. There are many similarities between the two, including:

However, there are substantial differences between the two. During a mass tort, individual plaintiffs are required to establish facts related to their specific case. In asbestos mass torts, each asbestos victim is required to describe how and when they were exposed, as well as whether that specific exposure led to a diagnosis of mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease.

Multidistrict Litigation MDL 875

Mass torts are often handled through multidistrict litigation (MDL). In these cases, a special court is established within a specific district of the U.S. federal court system, and often one or more justices are designated to preside over all the cases for that MDL. The MDL system is overseen by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation, which assigns MDL cases to a specific district to ensure efficient processing of claims. Each MDL is given a number to which cases are assigned as they are filed in their respective venues.

MDL 875 is the multidistrict litigation number for asbestos federal mass tort cases. Created in 1991, relevant lawsuits are transferred to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (EDPA), which handles asbestos MDL cases. With nearly 187,000 cases having been transferred to EDPA between 2006 – 2015, MDL 875 is the largest and longest-lasting MDL in United States history.

In general, MDL 875 cases are segmented into one of two categories:

Note that only federal asbestos lawsuits are handled by MDL 875. Individual states may have their own setups for handling multiple lawsuits. For example, the New York City Asbestos Litigation Court (NYCAL) regularly chooses a number of cases to be included as part of an in extremis cluster, meaning that the plaintiffs in these cases are in critical medical condition. While these cases aren’t necessarily tried together, they are put on the same docket due to the extreme nature of the diseases from which the plaintiffs are suffering.

Class Action vs. Individual Lawsuit

Asbestos class action lawsuits group individuals together, while individual lawsuits treat each case separately. Mesothelioma lawyers with experience handling both types of lawsuits can provide you with advantages and disadvantages of each, while providing guidance as to which option might give you the most compensation.

Individual Mesothelioma Lawsuits

Mesothelioma patients often have the opportunity to opt out of a class action and file an individual claim. You may choose this option if you believe you have a stronger case on your own rather than as part of a group, or if you feel that your case is significantly different than the others in your class action.

Class Action Mesothelioma Lawsuits

Typically, once a lawsuit is filed, it needs to be certified as a class action. Certification usually happens after all of the preliminary motions and discovery phase of a mesothelioma lawsuit. Once the suit is certified as a class action, potential members of the class will be identified and notified about their possible membership.

If you are notified that you may be a member of an asbestos-related class action, you should immediately contact a qualified asbestos attorney who has experience litigating such cases to determine your next best course of action.

Brief History of Asbestos Class Actions

As one of the longest-running subjects of mass litigation, asbestos lawsuits have been around for over a half-century. This section provides a brief history of the development of class action lawsuits related to asbestos.

Author: Jennifer R. Lucarelli

Lawyer for Mesothelioma Victims and Their Families

Jennifer R. Lucarelli

Reviewer: Linda Molinari

Editor in Chief, Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance

Linda Molinari
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Sources

Bartrip PWJ. History of asbestos-related disease. Postgrad Medical Journal. 2004;80:72-76.

Henderson JD. Protecting Rule 23 Class Members from Unfair Class Action Settlements: the Supreme Court's Amchem and Ortiz Decisions. William Mitchell Law Review. 27;1:2000.

Robreno EC. MDL-875: Past, Present and Future. American Bar Association Presentation. Updated September 2013.

Robreno EC. The Federal Asbestos Product Liability Multidistrict Litigation (MDL-875): Black Hole or New Paradigm? Widener Law Journal.2013;23:1.

Smith MS. Resolving Asbestos Claims: The Manville Personal Injury Settlement Trust. Law and Contemporary Problems. 1990;53:27-36.

United States District Court Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. MDL-875 - IN RE: Asbestos Products Liability Litivation (No. VI). December 2015 MDL 875 Casewide Statistical Breakdown. January 2016.