Thousands of Asbestosis Lawsuits Dismissed, but Plaintiffs Can Refile
August 17, 2015
More than 30,000 asbestosis lawsuits
have been dismissed from a multidistrict litigation in Texas because plaintiffs have not been able to prove they have a certain level of breathing disability. The lawsuits have been filed without prejudice, meaning plaintiffs who are able to provide evidence of breathing problems due to asbestos exposure can refile their asbestos lawsuit.
Asbestosis is a progressive lung disease linked to asbestos exposure. It, along with mesothelioma and lung cancer, can take decades to appear after asbestos exposure. Plaintiffs have filed lawsuits against a variety of defendants alleging they were not properly warned about the risks of asbestos exposure or that they were not given adequate protection from asbestos.
Many lawsuits are consolidated for pretrial proceedings in a multidistrict litigation, to ease the burden on the courts. However, to be part of a multidistrict litigation, the lawsuits must have similar questions of fact, including plaintiffs who have suffered similar enough harm. According to court documents from the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (8/17/15), there are currently 856 lawsuits consolidated in Pennsylvania in MDL 857 (different from the Texas multidistrict litigation) before Judge Eduardo C. Robreno. Since the Pennsylvania MDL was created, there have been more than 192,000 such lawsuits consolidated in the same MDL, though not all at the same time.
In Texas, Judge Mark Davidson has reportedly dismissed around 30,000 lawsuits, noting that Senate Bill 15 (2005) requires asbestos plaintiffs to include a medical report with their claim. Many such lawsuits were left in limbo. According to the SETexasRecord
(7/24/15), House Bill 1325 was enacted in 2013, allowing Judge Davidson to dismiss those lawsuits that do not provide medical reports. Judge Davidson has now done so but plaintiffs who can provide a medical report are able to refile their lawsuit.
Lawsuits have been filed across the United States alleging workers were exposed to asbestos and not given proper protection from the carcinogen nor given proper warning about the risks associated with exposure. Companies are required to follow laws not only on protecting workers from and warning them about asbestos exposure, but also on removing and disposing of asbestos.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) notes asbestosis, mesothelioma and lung cancer are all linked to asbestos. Because it can take decades after asbestos exposure for asbestosis to develop, asbestos lawsuits are still being filed.