7 Min Read
Last Updated: 05/31/2024
Fact Checked

Written by Joe Lahav, Esquire | Legally Reviewed By William A. Davis | Edited By Walter Pacheco

Fact Checked

What Is a Mesothelioma Class-Action Lawsuit?

In a mesothelioma class-action lawsuit, a group of “similarly situated” people bring a joint claim to court. Instead of hearing the details of every plaintiff’s case, the court hears one plaintiff’s case selected to represent the whole class.

State and federal courts have their own procedural rules governing class actions. Most agree the group must share similar injuries resulting from shared circumstances that raise the same legal issues.

The court must determine that litigating separate claims would be impractical or burdensome. Then the court can certify the group as a class and allow the group to proceed collectively.

Lawyers for an asbestos class-action suit, as with all class-action lawsuits, represent the whole group rather than individual clients. Class members have less control over their case. All claimants split class-action compensation. 

Key Facts About Mesothelioma Class-Action Lawsuits
  • Asbestos class-action lawyers represent the whole group rather than individual clients.
  • Mesothelioma class members have less control over their case than with other types of lawsuits.
  • All claimants split class-action compensation.

Why Are Mesothelioma Class-Action Lawsuits Rarely Filed?

As class actions evolved, it became clear they were no longer ideal for complex asbestos cases. Mesothelioma lawyers and judges found individual plaintiffs’ cases often were unique enough to prevent making up a viable representative class.

Mesothelioma class-action suits were most common in the 1960s until the late 1990s. During that period, these lawsuits were an efficient way for large groups of people diagnosed with mesothelioma to hold negligent companies liable. Today alternatives are more effective in securing your asbestos compensation.

Pros of Mesothelioma Class-Action Lawsuits:

  • In the past, they served as an efficient way to help victims of asbestos exposure access compensation.
  • They work well when a group of workers were exposed at the same job site to the same products and develop mesothelioma.

Cons of Mesothelioma Class-Action Lawsuits:

  • One plaintiff’s case is rarely similar enough to other plaintiffs’ cases.
  • Plaintiffs in asbestos-related class-action lawsuits generally don’t receive as much compensation as those who file successful individual lawsuits.

The KCIC Industry Report data gathered up to mid-year of 2023 shows that the number of plaintiffs filing asbestos lawsuits has risen about 2% from 2022. Total filings up to July 31, 2023, reached 1,963. 

The total for the year will reach around 3,400 filings if the numbers continue in this pattern. Considering the unique nature of each case, combining such a large number of lawsuits into a single class action isn’t an ideal solution for each individual participant. 

Can I Join a Mesothelioma Class-Action Suit?

An attorney who specializes in filing a mesothelioma lawsuit can talk you through the pros and cons of a class-action lawsuit to help you determine if joining a class is right for you. If you choose to proceed with joining a class-action suit, your lawyer will explain how to add your name. They’ll help you understand the process, including what documents you’ll need to make the process more efficient. 

If you are asked to join an asbestos class action, remember that you can choose to join the class or ‘opt out’ so you can pursue your own lawsuit.

If you choose to file an individual lawsuit instead, your attorney can guide you through the process of filing a mesothelioma claim. Experienced asbestos lawyers can explain everything from the statute of limitations to the discovery process, answering your questions and acting on your behalf to get you the compensation you deserve. 

Alternatives to Mesothelioma Class-Action Lawsuits

The main alternatives to joining a class-action lawsuit are individually filed personal injury lawsuits and wrongful death lawsuits. These make up the majority of mesothelioma-related claims. 

If the company responsible for your asbestos exposure has filed bankruptcy, you may be eligible for compensation from trust funds these companies established. Veterans can also file claims with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Workers’ compensation may also be an option for you. 

The unique aspects of an individual’s mesothelioma case rarely align with other cases closely enough to make a class action effective. For this reason, most class actions don’t make it past a judge to get heard. Filing individually generally secures each plaintiff a better outcome. 

Personal Injury Lawsuits

In a personal injury lawsuit, a single mesothelioma plaintiff files a lawsuit claiming specific asbestos products caused them to develop cancer. The defendants in the claim are the manufacturers of the products.

The advantage of pursuing a personal injury lawsuit rather than joining a class action is that it generally leads to higher compensation to use toward medical bills and other cancer-related expenses. In 2022, for example, Weitz & Luxenburg secured $43 million for a mesothelioma patient after a jury found Algoma Hardwoods, Inc., responsible for asbestos exposure.

Most mesothelioma lawsuits get settled out of court, whether they’re class actions or individual claims. Asbestos settlement negotiations are typically less complex for personal injury lawsuits, as there is only one plaintiff. An experienced asbestos law firm will have a solid track record of successfully negotiating settlements for their clients.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits

In a mesothelioma wrongful death lawsuit, the surviving family members who lost a loved one to mesothelioma file the claim. The surviving family’s lawsuit holds that their loved one’s death is the result of asbestos exposure.

Filing a wrongful death lawsuit can secure financial compensation for families to help pay for funeral costs, medical expenses and other bills related to the cancer. The majority of lawsuits get settled out of court with an average settlement of $1 million to $2 million. 

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Common Questions About Mesothelioma Class-Action Lawsuits

Can you file or join a class-action lawsuit for mesothelioma?

An experienced mesothelioma attorney can walk you through the process, however, mesothelioma cases are no longer normally filed as class actions. An individual lawsuit often provides better compensation because the mesothelioma lawyer focuses on only one claimant. Speak to your lawyer about the best options for you.

Besides a class-action lawsuit, what other types of asbestos compensation are available?

Compensation for a mesothelioma claim is available from the VA, asbestos trust funds and mesothelioma lawsuits. Mesothelioma lawsuit settlements occur out of court, and a qualified asbestos attorney will negotiate on your behalf if the best option for you is a settlement rather than a trial.

Can you sue if you developed mesothelioma from asbestos exposure?

You may be eligible to file a mesothelioma lawsuit claiming your asbestos exposure was the fault of negligent companies or manufacturers. Asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma are preventable and lawsuits can bring justice to those exposed. Speak with a mesothelioma lawyer specializing in asbestos litigation about the best options for you.

What is the average payout for a mesothelioma lawsuit?

The average non-class action mesothelioma trial payout is about $2.4 million, and the average settlement ranges from $1 million to $2 million.

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