Illinois may be in the midst of change regarding the way asbestos and mesothelioma lawsuits are ruled upon by judges, as a recent verdict reversal may signal that more strict criteria is on the horizon.
Noting what could be the beginning of a trend in Illinois, a recent Forbes articleexamined a state appeals court ruling that overturned a $2.5 million jury verdict against Honeywell and Pneumo Abex. The settlement had been awarded to a woman who claimed her mesothelioma had been caused by asbestos fibers that were tracked into her house by her husband, a worker at Union Rubber & Asbestos Co. in the 1950s.
However, because Union Rubber & Asbestos has long since gone out of business and could not be sued, Pneumo Abex and Honeywell were made the basis of the lawsuit because they were part of the same “trade group.” Much like Union Rubber, both Pneumo Abex and Honeywell had made asbestos brake shoes.
While a definitive link between the woman’s mesothelioma and either of the companies could not be found, state laws allowed for a judgment in the woman’s favor by finding both companies guilty of civil conspiracy. The ruling implied that both companies had allowed for asbestos use to continue – along with many other companies in the same trade group - by acting in “parallel conduct” with the company at fault, and therefore could be held accountable for the illness as a result.
However, that ruling turned out to be short-lived. The state appeals court recently threw out the case after deciding that the companies did not know in the 1950s that workers could carry asbestos fibers home on their clothes and therefore could not have committed a civil conspiracy.
Since that decision, other asbestos lawsuit rulings have been brought up for review that could potentially be reversed as well. Furthermore, any precedent set in Illinois could potentially have implications on mesothelioma lawsuits across the country that are brought by individuals who were exposed to asbestos by companies that were aware of the danger. Hopefully, whatever the implications, mesothelioma victims will still get the justice in court they deserve against asbestos companies that harmed them.
If you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos by using certain products or working for certain companies and have subsequently been diagnosed with mesothelioma, there may be legal options worth pursuing to obtain a mesothelioma settlement. Contact a mesothelioma attorney if you have any questions about the details of asbestos law and what is needed to pursue a settlement from the manufacturer of the asbestos product.