The asbestos lawsuit that is considered to be the first victory for a person with mesothelioma is the case of Borel v. Fibreboard Paper Products Corporation et al., 493 F.2d 1076 (5th Cir. 1973). Clarence Borel was an insulator who developed mesothelioma and asbestosis from his exposure to asbestos, which occurred for approximately 33 years. Mr. Borel won his asbestos lawsuit, which was filed in October 1969 against numerous manufacturers of asbestos insulation. The case was upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. After the Borel decision, asbestos lawsuits began to be filed in many courts throughout the country.
Stanley Levy, founding partner of Levy Konigsberg LLP, was one of the first lawyers on the East Coast of the United States to litigate asbestos lawsuits. Mr. Levy represented shipyard workers in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New York in the early days of the asbestos litigation: in the 1970s and early to mid-1980s. In 1986, the State of New York enacted C.P.L.R. 214-c, which allowed victims of asbestos-related diseases to file an asbestos lawsuit within three years of the date in which the asbestos-related disease reasonably should have been discovered. After this change in the law in 1986, a greater number of people were able to file asbestos lawsuits in New York and the volume of cases filed increased dramatically.
Levy Konigsberg LLP attorneys, including Stanley Levy, Robert Komitor, and Moshe Maimon, played leading roles in large consolidated asbestos trials that took place in New York in the 1980s and early 1990s. These consolidated trials, which included the Brooklyn Navy Yard trials and the Con Edison Powerhouse trials, combined hundreds of asbestos lawsuits into a single trial so that the claims could be efficiently resolved instead of being tried one at a time.
Beginning in the 1980s and continuing through the present, a number of companies who were defendants in the asbestos litigation have declared bankruptcy, a process which allows a company to re-organize in a bankruptcy proceeding, put money aside for present and future asbestos liabilities, and then exit bankruptcy and continue to do business. For example, Johns-Manville declared bankruptcy in 1986 and set up a bankruptcy trust to pay victims of asbestos-related disease. Unfortunately, the amount of money paid by companies in bankruptcy proceedings is very small compared to the value the claim would have in an asbestos lawsuit. Meanwhile, Johns-Manville, like many other companies, exited bankruptcy and continues to operate as a business with products that can be seen in building supply stores across the country.
Still, hundreds of companies manufactured, sold and used asbestos-containing materials and continue to be properly sued in asbestos lawsuits around the country. In the 2000s, defendants in asbestos lawsuits have attempted to obtain legal rulings from courts that limit the scope of the legal claims that can be filed in asbestos cases. For example, defendants who manufactured equipment, such as boilers, pumps and valves, are attempting to limit their liability to the asbestos materials that these companies originally supplied with their products; these companies are trying to avoid responsibility for the asbestos materials that they knew would continue to be used with their product and that were required for their products to continue to be used.
Another disturbing trend in asbestos lawsuits in recent years is that many defendants are attacking the world-wide scientific consensus that asbestos in any form, and at low levels, is capable of causing mesothelioma. Asbestos defendants, particularly automotive companies, have paid more than $30 million to “experts” who have used this money to conduct research and published papers designed to assist the industry in making its arguments in asbestos lawsuits. The papers funded by the asbestos companies are often published in scientific journals that are also funded and controlled by industry.
As the companies that manufactured and sold asbestos-containing products run out of defenses in asbestos lawsuits, they have begun to attack the lawyers filing the lawsuits. These companies attempt to cast the asbestos trial lawyers – the lawyers representing the victims of mesothelioma – as the villains, rather than accepting the fact that they are responsible for causing exposures to asbestos and the diseases suffered by hard-working people.
Levy Konigsberg LLP is an award-winning law firm that has represented deserving families in asbestos lawsuits for more than 30 years. Many of the firm’s lawyers have been named in the list of Best Lawyers in America. The firm was named the 2013 Plaintiff’s Product Liability Law Firm of the Year for its history of successful outcomes in asbestos lawsuits. For more information, please call 1-800-637-6529 or submit an electronic inquiry using the email form or live chat on this website.
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.
- 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.