What Is an Appeal for a Mesothelioma Verdict?
An appeal of a mesothelioma verdict is a challenge to the court’s ruling or jury verdict. They are rare in mesothelioma lawsuits because most claims are settled out of court before trial begins.
Appeals are filed to a higher court known as an appellate court. They cannot be filed if a party is simply unhappy with the court’s original ruling. For an appeal to be successful, a plaintiff or defendant must show an error led to an incorrect ruling or verdict.
Appeals are not retrials or a new trial of the case. Appellate courts do not usually review new evidence or hear new witness testimony. They review arguments on errors in trial procedure, rulings, verdicts or the judge’s interpretation of the law.
In mesothelioma lawsuits, defendants may appeal a verdict to reverse the ruling or reduce the amount of money the court ordered them to pay a plaintiff. Mesothelioma plaintiffs may appeal a verdict with the hope that the appellate court will reverse a decision in their favor.
It is important when hiring a mesothelioma lawyer to inquire about how they handle appeals. Ask about their track record of success and what you can expect throughout the appeals process.
How Does the Appeal Process Work for Mesothelioma Lawsuits?
The appeal process begins when a defendant or plaintiff files a notice of appeal and submits a written brief with the appropriate appellate court. The person filing the appeal is an appellant and the person responding is called an appellee.
For the appeal to be successful, the written brief must prove an error in law or process affected the ruling or verdict. Appellate courts often do not allow oral arguments. In jurisdictions that do allow it, oral arguments may only clarify legal issues presented in the written brief.
An appellee has a certain amount of time to file an answering brief, and then the appellant has time to file a second brief responding to the appellee’s brief. Once the appellate court reviews all the briefs and hears supporting arguments, when permitted, they will issue a decision for case resolution.
An experienced appellate lawyer will guide your case through every step of the appeals process. Unlike mesothelioma lawsuits heard in trial courts, you won’t have to submit another deposition or any new evidence.
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Is There a New Time Limit for Filing an Appeal?
Yes, there is a time limit for filing an appeal. In most cases, an appeal must be filed within 30 days of the court’s decision.
Who Can Appeal a Verdict?
A plaintiff or a defendant may file an appeal in civil cases such as mesothelioma lawsuits. But they cannot do it on a whim or just because they are dissatisfied with the court’s decision.
They must present evidence that an error in law or process led to the ruling or verdict. Minor or harmless errors do not typically justify an appeal. An appellant must show the error affected the verdict.
Trial Courts vs. Appellate Courts
Mesothelioma lawsuits take place in trial courts and appeals are heard in appellate courts. An appeal will never be heard in a trial court and a trial case will never be heard in an appellate court.
Trial courts are composed of a judge, jury or both to reach a verdict, while appellate courts are made up of a panel of judges to review an appeal.
Another difference lies in how the courts hear evidence. Trial courts are open to new evidence, but appellate courts only review evidence that was presented at trial. In short, appellate courts don’t conduct trials because their role is to review the original trial process and result.
Appellate Court Rulings
Appellate courts offer several options for case resolution:
- Affirm the result
- Modify the result
- Reverse the result
- Remand the case back to the lower courts
A trial court’s verdict will also stand if the appellate court dismisses the appeal.
After Appealing a Court Decision
Your attorney will walk you through the next best steps based upon the appellate court’s ruling.
If the appellate court agrees with the trial court’s original verdict, then your case will proceed as it normally would, and you will receive your mesothelioma compensation as if the appeal never happened.
Past Mesothelioma Lawsuit Appeals
Asbestos defendants may commonly appeal mesothelioma verdicts, but appellate courts give substantial weight to the original ruling. An error in law or process is difficult to prove in most cases, which results in many appeals being rejected.
In 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals debated whether to Johnson & Johnson would be permitted to move their mass tort liabilities to a new entity after their talc products were found to be contaminated with asbestos.
Rejected Mesothelioma Appeals Filed by Asbestos Defendants
- In August 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit rejected an appeal filed by Covil Corporation, upholding a $32.7 million damage award issued by a North Carolina jury to mesothelioma plaintiff Franklin Finch. The appeals court affirmed the verdict, holding that, “without evidence of passion or prejudice, we cannot replace the jury’s considered judgment with our own, or with an amount that Covil would prefer.”
- In June 2020, the Missouri Court of Appeals rejected an appeal filed by Johnson & Johnson and upheld the trial court’s decision but reduced the damage award from $4.69 billion to $2.1 billion. Johnson & Johnson’s appeal argued the plaintiffs failed to submit substantial evidence that talc products caused them to develop cancer. The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s decision and issued the following statement: “This trial showed clear and convincing evidence defendants engaged in conduct that was outrageous because of evil motive or reckless indifference.”
- In April 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit rejected an appeal filed by asbestos manufacturer Budd Company, upholding a $139,500 damage award issued to the estate of mesothelioma plaintiff Robert Rabe. Budd’s appeal argued the trial court erred in interpretation of the Safety Appliance Act, saying it should have barred Rabe’s claim. The appellate court affirmed the damage award because Budd failed to seek a “plain-error review,” effectively rejecting Budd’s claim that an error in law interpretation occurred.
Granted Appeal Filed by Mesothelioma Plaintiff
Mesothelioma plaintiffs don’t appeal verdicts as often as defendants, but in some cases their appeals are granted.
It is vital to find a qualified mesothelioma law firm that has the background and experience to handle your case if it is appealed by a defendant. The firm should also have experience handling appeals on behalf of mesothelioma plaintiffs.
While appeals aren’t common in mesothelioma lawsuits, it’s important to work with a law firm that will know how to handle your lawsuit in case of an appeal. They can also recommend other avenues for compensation, including asbestos trust funds.