An Illinois court will soon be hearing an appeal of a $17.8 million verdict concerning employee injuries and illnesses that came about due to asbestos exposure. This case was interesting in that the trial jury had concluded that a number of companies conspired with each other to keep quiet any information concerning the hazards of asbestos. Now whether such a conspiracy did exist is being questioned.
One problem in trying asbestos related litigation is that the actual exposure to the asbestos may have happened long ago, and often the company that was actually responsible for the exposure has gone bankrupt or is out of business. Research into the dangers of asbestos may have been almost nonexistent more than 50-years ago, and the research that did exist was of a questionable nature or had no significance whatsoever.
Some justices feel that proving up a conspiracy would require clear and convincing evidence. This is an extremely high standard and would require that the attorney establish foundation to allow certain evidence in that would point to a conspiracy. As in the above case, it may require more than just showing a supplier of asbestos had a long term relationship with a customer. Because of the complexity of such cases, an attorney experienced in trying asbestos cases would be highly recommended if someone has contracted an asbestos related disease.
What should not be lost in all of the legal haggling is the extreme harm that has resulted from asbestos exposure. Though there was a time that companies were not as aware of the dangers of asbestos as they are today, that timeframe is increasingly becoming more remote. Even 30 or 40-years ago with workers first being diagnosed with lung cancer and mesothelioma after asbestos exposure, employers likely had some suspicions that something was wrong.
Employers no longer have the excuse of hiding behind an excuse of ignorance when it comes to asbestos exposure.
Source: Legal Newsline, "Ill. court will hear $17.8 M asbestos appeal," by Steve Korris, Jan. 30, 2012