Last modified: January 13, 2022
What Are Mesothelioma Settlements and Verdicts?
Mesothelioma settlements and verdicts are two different ways of achieving compensation through a mesothelioma lawsuit. Patients diagnosed with mesothelioma and their loved ones may be eligible to file a claim. While there are many differences between settlements and verdicts, both offer a variety of benefits to patients and families coping with mesothelioma.
- Mesothelioma settlement: In a mesothelioma settlement, the company that you sued for your injury decides to pay a negotiated amount to resolve your claim rather than risking a jury or court verdict. The amount of the settlement is determined through negotiations between your attorney and the company responsible for your asbestos exposure. Settlements result in quicker compensation for families under financial hardship. They are legally binding and legal action can be taken if the settlement isn’t paid on time, which means settlements offer guaranteed compensation.
- Mesothelioma verdict: A mesothelioma verdict is compensation determined by a jury or court at the close of a mesothelioma trial. Verdicts often result in higher payouts, but defendants can appeal to pay a reduced amount or have the verdict overturned completely.
The payout is the amount of compensation you receive once the attorney’s fees and costs have been paid, as described in your retainer agreement with your lawyer.
Because settlements provide compensation faster than lawsuits, they may be a more immediate solution to pay expenses. Verdicts typically result in higher amounts of total compensation, but the majority of lawsuits are settled before trial.Joe Lahav, EsquireLawyer and On-Site Legal Advisor
There is a statute of limitations on legal claims for asbestos exposure. Each state has its own time frame and deadlines for filing a claim following the initial diagnosis. Patients should speak to a mesothelioma attorney if they are considering filing a claim for compensation.
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Mesothelioma Settlement and Trial Award Amounts
The amount of compensation won through asbestos personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits varies from case to case.
Many patients or their estates have received settlements and jury awards worth millions of dollars. Mesothelioma trust payouts from bankrupt companies often are significantly less than the amounts claimants may be eligible to receive in court cases against nonbankrupt companies.
The time frame for a mesothelioma settlement varies, with some patients receiving a check in a few months to others waiting more than a year.
Notable Settlements and Verdicts
Exact settlement figures often are kept private, and claimants often are bound by confidentiality agreements. However, some mesothelioma lawsuit settlement amounts become public from time to time. When plaintiffs and defendants don’t agree to a settlement, the case usually goes to trial. If jurors find that the defendants are liable, they will decide how much money the defendants should pay in damages.
The family of a mechanic from Redding, California, received a $630,000 settlement in 2018 to resolve a wrongful death lawsuit from asbestos-related lung cancer. The surviving family claimed their loved one developed lung cancer as a result of exposure to asbestos brakes, clutches and gaskets.
In 2017, a jury awarded Ed Robaey $75 million in the largest single asbestos verdict in New York history. Robaey claimed he developed mesothelioma from working with asbestos gaskets in car engines.
A New York jury ordered DaimlerChrysler to pay $25 million in 2006 to Alfred D’Ulisse, a retired police officer and former brake specialist who said he developed mesothelioma from exposure to the company’s automobile brakes.
In 2003, U.S. Steel was ordered to pay $250 million to the wife of a former steel worker who died of mesothelioma. U.S. Steel reached a post-verdict settlement for an undisclosed amount believed to be substantially less than the trial award.
A Texas jury awarded $18.6 million in 2014 to the surviving family of Carl Rogers, who died of mesothelioma after working at a Goodyear tire factory for 30 years. Rogers was exposed to asbestos-containing machinery parts and pipe insulation at the factory.
In 2020, a drywall worker who developed mesothelioma received a $13.4 million verdict and $75,000 in settlements from an asbestos lawsuit filed in Washington state. Drywaller Raymond Budd said he developed the cancer from working with multiple asbestos products including Kaiser Gypsum’s asbestos-containing joint compound.
A San Francisco jury awarded $24.26 million in 2018 to longshoreman George Lucas, who said he developed mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure he endured while working at shipyards around San Francisco Bay for nearly 30 years. He was exposed to asbestos insulation, gaskets and packing.
A jury awarded former naval shipyard worker George Parker $6.5 million in 2016. The jury determined John Crane Inc. was responsible for exposing Parker to asbestos, which led to his mesothelioma diagnosis. Parker worked with gasket materials containing asbestos at the Norfolk Naval Shipyard.
In 2014, a California jury awarded $70.8 million to U.S. Navy machinist Robert Whalen in a mesothelioma lawsuit involving gasket manufacturer John Crane Inc. Whalen claimed he developed mesothelioma working with the company’s asbestos products during his 26-year service in the Navy.
In 2016, a Los Angeles Superior Court jury awarded Philip Depoian an $18 million verdict in a mesothelioma-talcum powder lawsuit. Depoian was exposed to asbestos-tainted talcum powder products used at the barber shop where his father worked.
In 2018, a jury awarded damages to Stephen Lanzo III and his wife totaling $117 million. A jury found Johnson & Johnson and Imerys Talc America liable for selling asbestos-contaminated talcum powder products to Lanzo from 1979 to 2003, which led to Lanzo’s mesothelioma diagnosis.
Disclaimer: The former settlements and verdicts are examples of compensation received through individual cases filed in different states throughout the U.S. These examples are no guarantee of what compensation you might receive by filing a claim.
Benefits of a Mesothelioma Settlement
While a trial verdict may result in a larger award of damages than a settlement might, there is no guarantee a jury will side with you. Qualified mesothelioma attorneys know there are no sure bets in a trial. The amount you can negotiate in a settlement may be smaller than what you could win in a trial verdict, but the compensation will be guaranteed.
- Discovery of information favorable to the plaintiff
- A compelling deposition that favors the plaintiff
- Lack of time to complete necessary research before a trial
- Sudden unavailability of a key witness or expert needed to win the case
- Desire to avoid ongoing legal fees from a drawn-out lawsuit
The decision to settle or not is best made with the advice of an experienced mesothelioma attorney. These lawyers understand the nature of malignant mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.
The more evidence you gather to support your case, the easier it will be to obtain a favorable settlement amount.
What Factors Affect Mesothelioma Settlement Amounts?
When you file a mesothelioma claim, many factors affect the potential settlement amount a defendant may agree to.
Medical Expenses and Lost Wages
Most mesothelioma patients dealing with the hardships of cancer also experience financial difficulties from mounting medical expenses. Because patients and their family members have to focus on mesothelioma treatment and caregiving, they may be unable to work, causing a loss of income at the same time.
Compensatory and Punitive Damages
When a jury issues a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, jurors consider compensatory damages such as the actual economic losses suffered by the plaintiff. Jurors also may consider the award of punitive damages, which serve to punish a defendant for particularly bad behavior and to deter others from acting similarly.
In cases where the manufacturer knowingly allowed asbestos products to harm people, the potential financial liability may be significant. Some historic cases have resulted in awards of damages in the tens of millions of dollars. If a defendant has settled or lost cases in the past, it may want to settle a claim quickly without going through the trial process again.
Number of Companies in Lawsuit
Plaintiffs often file claims against multiple companies that manufactured asbestos-containing products. In lawsuits where multiple defendants are named, it’s common for some defendants to settle early to avoid legal expenses, negative publicity or a prolonged proceeding.
Different states require varying amounts of evidence to prove liability, negligence and wrongdoing on the part of a defendant. Some states also cap the amount of damages that a jury can award in a trial.
Asbestos Settlement Process & Common Scenarios
The settlement process starts with a mesothelioma attorney preparing to present a plaintiff’s case to a judge and jury. Asbestos settlement negotiations with defendants can take place before, during or even after a trial.
- Filing Claims and Receiving Responses: After you work with your lawyer to identify the potentially liable companies and file your claims in the form of a complaint, the defendants typically have 30 days to respond in the form of an answer. Some defendants may offer a small settlement immediately rather than file an answer to your complaint, but most file an answer denying the claim.
- Discovery and Preparation for Trial: The phase leading up to the trial date is called discovery, which is the phase of the case during which lawyers on both sides collect evidence to build their cases. Defendants may be willing to negotiate a settlement at this stage to avoid a trial.
- Trial and Appeal: If a trial starts going badly for a defendant, the defendant may be motivated to settle to avoid a damaging verdict. Even if a jury takes your side, it may be in your best interest to accept a settlement whereby the defendants waive their right to file an appeal, which might prolong the legal process.
Your lawyer can advise you about your options and whether you should hold out for a better proposal. A lawyer can also advise you about trust fund claims and how they might affect other legal claims available to you.
“We’re prepared to take every one of our cases to trial. A very small percentage, though, ever get to a verdict,” said Dan Kraft, an attorney at Weitz & Luxenberg, the mesothelioma law firm responsible for two record-setting asbestos verdicts in New York.
Common Questions About Mesothelioma Settlements
- What Is the Average Asbestos Claims Payout?
The average asbestos claim payout ranges from $1 million to $1.4 million, according to a 2016 Mealey’s Litigation Report. The amount of your mesothelioma settlement could be more or less than this range, depending on several factors such as type of claim (personal injury or wrongful death), number of defendants in the lawsuit and details unique to your case.
- How Long Does It Take to Get an Asbestos Settlement?
The time period to receive money from a settlement varies for each case. After a mesothelioma settlement is reached, it can take anywhere from a few months to more than a year for you to start receiving settlement checks.
You will likely receive your compensation in installments rather than in one lump sum, especially if the settlement is large. You should discuss with your mesothelioma attorney how you want your payments distributed.
- Are Mesothelioma Settlements Taxable Income?
Mesothelioma settlement payouts for medical expenses are generally not taxable. Financial compensation you receive for lost wages and emotional distress can be taxable.
An experienced mesothelioma law firm can explain how your settlement may be taxed. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 expanded the amount of settlement money that may be taxable.
- Who Receives Money in a Wrongful Death Settlement?
Compensation awarded in a wrongful death settlement may go to the deceased person’s estate. How settlement money is distributed to surviving family members depends on the unique circumstances of each case.
- How Much Are Legal Fees?
Most mesothelioma attorneys work on a contingency fee basis. This means your attorney generally agrees to receive a percentage of any award or settlement, but you will owe nothing if you do not receive compensation for your injuries. You agree on the specific terms with your lawyer at the beginning of the case.
- How Do Mesothelioma Settlements Work?
In a mesothelioma settlement, the company that may have been responsible for exposing an individual to asbestos agrees to pay damages in order to resolve the claim. A claim must be filed against the manufacturer of the asbestos product, followed by negotiations, thereby resulting in a mutually acceptable settlement.
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