In recent years, health experts all over the world believe Asbestos to be one of the most harmful and unsafe products around, which still continues to affect a large population. There are many environment protection institutions and state laws that regulate the use and extraction of asbestos. Known to cause Mesothelioma, Asbestosis and severe personal injuries, asbestos lawsuits have been increasing over the last three decades. As per one report, the legal battle in United States started in late 60’s when first case was filed in Texas, and today it is one of the most predominant in at least eight states.
Industry vs. Plaintiffs
Asbestos and Mesothelioma lawsuits have become synonymous as Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is only caused by asbestos. In 2002, there was an interim report published by a non-profit research agency that stated there were 600,000 individual claims filed prior to 2000 against the asbestos industry for causing personal injuries. The first asbestos defendant in U.S. was Johns Manville. Today more than 50 manufacturing companies have been named as defendants asbestos lawsuits. Among them are some popular names like Dow Chemical, General Motors, Pfizer, Lockheed Martin, IBM, Kaiser Aluminium, and Viacom.
The impact of the lawsuits and compensation has been so much on the industry that the use of asbestos has been reduced by a considerable extent. However, products and materials, especially used as building materials, are still out there. Also, many manufacturing companies have filed for bankruptcy, primarily due to their liability the affected workers who were exposed to their products.
When workers today are diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos-related diseases, they are sometimes surprised to learn they were exposed to lethal doses of asbestos dust. Workers in foundries, refineries, and power plants may have known that they worked around asbestos, and they can recall dust so thick that they go in for regular checkups to detect asbestos disease. But workers in many other industries — like electricians, carpenters, and car mechanics — were also exposed to asbestos in doses far above OSHA limits. Those workers may not have known that asbestos was in the products they handled every day, and because the workplace seemed relatively clean, they didn’t take precautions to avoid breathing in the dust around them. Those workers were never told that asbestos dust could kill you, even when the dust was so sparse that it was invisible to the naked eye. The workers didn’t know that, but most manufacturers knew it well, at least by the 1960s or early 1970s.
No Ban in United States
It is true that there is no ban on asbestos manufacturing in the United States, whereas in many countries the extraction and manufacturing are strictly banned. There are six types of asbestos material that are commonly found – Chrysotile, Crocidolite, Amosite, Anthophyllite, Tremolite and Actinolyte. All of them have been shown to have a toxic nature and as such have been banned in many countries. However, there are other forms as well which continue to be mined and extracted.
Ban on the use of compounds containing asbestos in United States was for the first time put by U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in 1977. In 1989, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency extended the ban to many other products containing asbestos. However the ban was overruled by a New Orleans court two years after and is now limited to the use of few asbestos products only.
Ever increasing Claims and Lawsuits
Asbestos lawsuits have been increasing in the last two decades. It is mainly because asbestos products have reached most of the homes in United States, in one form or the other. Legislation, trusts, civil justice institutions, awareness about asbestos as unsafe material, and a rise in the number of Mesothelioma cases have all added to the filing of asbestos lawsuits.