Plaintiffs often do not know they or their loved one have suffered a tortious, asbestos-related injury until the condition has progressed to such a degree that the terminal illness is in its final stages. That means plaintiff lawyers must work quickly and efficiently to gather all possibly relevant information and testimony, some of which dates back decades, to piece together an airtight case against deep-pocketed defendants keen on dragging out the process. They know the plaintiffs are on borrowed time, since mesothelioma, once diagnosed, can progress rapidly.
In many cases, plaintiffs are too ill to participate in the later stages of litigation, or they do not survive to see its conclusion. Still, they know the damages awarded will lift an enormous financial burden off their loved ones in the wake of their untimely passing.
Our mesothelioma attorneys know defendants will sometimes try to drag out the process as long as possible to ensure the plaintiff will not have an opportunity to present the case directly. If plaintiff lawyers believe it prudent and worthwhile, there may be the option to pursue an expedited trial.
Such requests must only be made after careful consideration because you never want to take the case to court too soon and run the risk of being unprepared. In some instances, an expedited trial best serves the plaintiff. Such a proceeding could ensure they receive their compensation before the illness reaches its final stages, allowing plaintiffs to live out their last days in peace and comfort. In the end, the plaintiff’s care, treatment, and wishes are always the top concern.
One example of an expedited trial in mesothelioma litigation occurred recently in California, where the state’s First District Court of Appeal granted the plaintiffs’ petition, in effect vacating the lower court’s ruling refusing an earlier trial date.
The plaintiffs, a husband suffering from mesothelioma and his wife, sought a trial date within four months of their filing. In the initial request, they noted that the husband is 71 years old and has been suffering from the disease for at least two years, although it wasn’t formally diagnosed until more recently. The plaintiffs also submitted a number of declarations and medical opinions issued by several physicians, one of whom was a primary care doctor who indicated the plaintiff likely will not survive another five months.
The defendants opposed the request, arguing the plaintiff reportedly “feels well,” has not lost a significant amount of weight, and reportedly has maintained a decent energy level. However, the appellate court declined to use this as a measurement of life expectancy, noting the plaintiff was in Stage III of a Stage IV terminal illness, and his survival beyond the next six months was in serious doubt.
For this reason, the court granted the request, noting the “unusual urgency” the facts established.