Mesothelioma And Asbestos Exposure


For decades, the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision in Garrett v. Raytheon dictated that the state’s two-year statute of limitations for toxic torts cases ran from the date of the plaintiff’s last exposure to the toxic substance. Because the serious health effects caused by asbestos exposure may not manifest into a diagnosis of mesothelioma until years or even decades after such exposure, under the frequently harsh “last exposure rule”, the statute of limitations would have likely expired well before a potential plaintiff ever discovered that he had mesothelioma.

While there was an exception for persons suffering from an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma, whose last exposure to an asbestos product occurred after May 1979, a potential plaintiff last exposed to an asbestos product before May 1979 would likely have no viable claim against that product’s manufacturer by the time he is diagnosed with the disease.

However, in an important toxic tort decision, Griffin v. Unocal Corp., the Alabama Supreme Court overruled its decades-old last exposure rule in toxic tort cases, and instead adopted a more rational “discovery rule.” Under the discovery rule, a potential plaintiff’s claim accrues, and the statute of limitations begins to run, on the first date the injured party, through reasonable diligence, should have reason to discover the injury – in a case of mesothelioma, the date of diagnosis. As it appears from the court’s opinion, Alabama courts will now apply the discovery rule regardless of the date of last exposure.

In the Griffin case, David Griffin was exposed to hazardous chemicals manufactured by multiple chemical companies while employed at a tire-manufacturing facility in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, from 1973 to 1993. David was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia on September 9, 2003, approximately ten years after he left his employment at the tire plant. He died in February 2004 as a result of his leukemia. A week later, his wife, Brenda Sue Griffin, filed a wrongful death lawsuit on his behalf alleging that David’s illness and subsequent death was caused by his exposure to various chemicals during his employment at the tire manufacturing facility. The defendant chemical companies filed motions to dismiss stating that Plaintiff’s claims were time-barred because her claim accrued and the statute of limitations began to run in 1993, and the time to start an action expired in 1995 (despite the fact that David discovered his injuries eight years later!). The trial court granted the defendants’ motions. On appeal, the Supreme Court of Alabama overruled Garrett and the cases that followed its ruling, and stated that a cause of action, such as one for mesothelioma, accrues not on the date of last exposure, but instead, only when there has occurred a manifest, present injury, i.e., the date of diagnosis of mesothelioma.

In overturning the trial court’s dismissal of Plaintiff’s claims, the Supreme Court held that the proper construction of the term “accrued” means that a cause of action arises only when there has occurred a manifest, present injury. The Court further held that a “manifest, present injury” exists when a condition has evidenced itself sufficiently that its existence is objectively evident and apparent, even if only to the diagnostic skills of a physician. In the case of mesothelioma, even though the exposure to asbestos may have occurred years ago, the present injury is the diagnosis of mesothelioma.

ATTENTION: Mesothelioma has no known cure and often causes severe pain, suffering, and other types of damage, such as loss of consortium, and loss of income. Additionally, due to the exceedingly high cost of mesothelioma treatments, many families exhaust savings and accumulate financial debt in order to pay for the medical expenses of their family member.

Under the law of most states, pain and suffering from mesothelioma may be compensated through the award of money damages, usually obtained with the help of experienced mesothelioma attorneys. In some states other types of damages may also be recovered.

Asbestos litigation affords mesothelioma victims the opportunity to receive financial compensation and hold accountable the companies that caused their asbestos exposure.

IMPORTANT: If you or your family member has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you should get in touch with a mesothelioma lawyer as early as possible to determine if you have a mesothelioma case and to:

  • Preserve your rights to bring a legal action against the responsible parties within the limited time frame allowed by law, known as statute of limitations;
  • Obtain maximum compensation in your case by being able to:
    • Preserve evidence and establish facts of the asbestos exposure while the claimant is still alive and able to provide information;
    • File and resolve a lawsuit against the responsible parties before they file for bankruptcy or, if they already have, to obtain compensation before their bankruptcy trust funds run out of money;
  • Expedite your case, as courts tend to give higher priority to mesothelioma lawsuits where the claimant is still alive.

Find out whether you have a case by speaking to one of our experienced mesothelioma lawyers via our 24/7 toll-free hotline at (800) 315-3806 or submit an email inquiry. Our attorneys will be quick to respond to you and happy to answer all of your questions.

NOTE: We have offices located in New York, New Jersey, California, Georgia, Washington, and Maryland. Many of our mesothelioma lawyers are licensed to practice law in a number of U.S. states and have the capability and extensive experience of representing mesothelioma clients throughout the United States. You are encouraged to contact us with any questions.



How Much is a Mesothelioma Claim Worth?

The compensation paid to a victim of asbestos exposure will vary, case to case. The issues impacting the value of a claim include the number of parties named in a lawsuit. For example, an employer may have used products that contained asbestos that were used extensively and may be named as one of the parties in a lawsuit. In other cases, several manufacturers supplied asbestos-containing products. These companies may already have filed bankruptcy but may have been required to establish a trust to pay out future claims filed against them. To value your claim requires a comprehensive investigation into the facts.

What industries in Alabama exposed workers to asbestos?

Countless industries in Alabama used asbestos-containing products in the past. The industries where employees or contractors may have been exposed to asbestos include, but are not limited to:

  • Chemical companies
  • Tire manufacturing
  • Oil refineries
  • Shipbuilding
  • Power plants
  • Manufacturing facilities
  • Military facilities
  • Paper mills
  • Metal works

How Long Do You Have to File a Mesothelioma Claim?

The statute of limitations in Alabama allows for two years from the day of being diagnosed with the disease. The case of Griffin v. Unocal Corp changed the way these cases could be brought against a negligent company. The law now allows cases to be filed based on a discovery rule, rather than the earlier process which was the date of last exposure – which barred many people who were suffering the consequences of asbestos exposure from filing a claim or lawsuit.

How Do I Know if My Disease was Caused by Asbestos Exposure?

If you have developed mesothelioma, the condition is caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. However, to file a claim, a medical professional must confirm your condition. Talk to your doctor, explain your work history and any exposure to asbestos, and get any testing ordered that can confirm that you have developed mesothelioma. The disease must be confirmed by a medical doctor before filing a claim.

Why Do I Need a Lawyer?

Mesothelioma is a deadly cancer that is caused by inhaling asbestos fibers. Employers who allowed their workers to be exposed to this cancer-causing substance were negligent and must be held accountable for the losses associated with the disease. Your Alabama mesothelioma lawyer will perform a full investigation into the facts, where you were exposed, and identify all liable parties to file a claim or lawsuit.

Do the Lawyers Advertising for Mesothelioma Claims Litigate Cases?

You may be surprised to find out that many firms that advertise on TV or radio do not actually do the legal work involved in litigating a mesothelioma claim. You are far better served by a law firm that has extensive experience in these legal cases, and a record of achieving favorable outcomes, rather than a firm that brokers “leads” to other firms.

Can I get Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Mesothelioma?

Workers have the right to benefits through the Alabama Workers’ Compensation system when injured at work, or developing a work-related illness, including toxic exposure. To be eligible for benefits, it must be established that the exposure occurred in a work environment. The company may be out of business, may have been sold to another entity, or may have filed bankruptcy. It may or may not be possible to get benefits through the agency, but you do have the right to file a personal injury claim against all liable parties.

How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?

The Alabama statute of limitations allows for two years from a diagnosis of mesothelioma in which to file a claim. The law also allows for cases of mesothelioma in family members who were exposed to asbestos when a worker brought the fibers into the home on clothing or other materials.

Contact Levy Konigsberg at (800) 315-3806 if you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma in Alabama.


Find out whether you have a case by speaking to one of our experienced lawyers via our 24/7 toll-free hotline or by submitting an email inquiry. Our attorneys will be quick to respond to you and happy to answer all of your questions.


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