If you were seriously injured, remember that it is crucial to choose the right law firm to represent your interests. We have been doing this for more than three decades, and have the resources you need to challenge any opponent.
It’s been the standard in Florida courts and others across the country to bar plaintiffs access to punitive damages in asbestos litigation, even when it’s clear the defendants knew the dangers of their products and actively concealed them.
However, one judge in New York City Asbestos Litigation Court defied the norm with an order that allows all plaintiffs in asbestos lawsuits to seek punitive damages, the same as any other plaintiffs. The Judge reasoned that New York law requires this opportunity be applied equally to everyone.
Prior to her April 2014 order, all asbestos litigation plaintiffs had punitive damage requests deferred (as of September 1996). Now, despite receiving numerous motions opposing her order, the judge is standing firm. She has denied those motions and has stated her decision on this point will stand.
Our mesothelioma diagnosis attorneys believe this is an important turning point, not only because it increases the amount of compensation that plaintiffs can secure, but also because it presents an opportunity to punish defendants who knowingly manufactured products with a dangerous and toxic material and then actively concealed the peril to workers and consumers.
While opponents say allowing punitive damages will deplete resources for future victims, the reality is deferral of such damages is unethical and unconstitutional. The point to make is the possibility of punitive damages makes defendants more willing to talk settlement, rather than risk their chances at trial. Trials are expensive, so in the end, the move could end up saving a great deal of money, particularly for taxpayers.
In a series of responses to opposing motions to the ruling, which altered the Case Management Order in the multi-district litigation, Judge Sherry Klein Heitler dismissed them all as without merit. Defendants argued the order is at odds with the objective of bringing about fair, timely, and less costly resolutions to the cases.
In a motion to re-argue, the burden was on the defendants to show the court misapplied certain legal principles or overlooked relevant facts.
The judge, however, was not convinced by the defendants’ position, finding they were simply trying to re-argue the same points of law on which she had already ruled. Furthermore, she pointed out that the rules of civil procedure in New York (as in many other states) permit plaintiffs to seek punitive damages. It is fundamentally unfair and unjustifiable for the court to allow only some victims to seek punitive damages.
Another request asked for an “indefinite stay” to the order, saying everyone needed more time to formulate a response to the “sea of change” the order would cause. The judge, however, rejected this too, calling the request too open-ended. She did concede, however, that cases would likely proceed a bit more slowly at first, in order to accommodate some of the procedural changes.
Still, punitive damages will not be a given in any case. Plaintiffs will have to make a case for them in each instance, and the respective trial judge will be tasked with weighing each request prior to trial.
Punitive damages are those paid in excess of a plaintiff’s provable injuries, and they are only awarded in cases where a defendant’s conduct was especially egregious.
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Frequently Asked Questions: Mesothelioma & Asbestos
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a carcinogenic, naturally occurring fibrous mineral. Known for its heat resistance and durability, asbestos has historically been used in insulation, construction materials, automotive parts, and shipbuilding materials.
Why is asbestos dangerous?
Asbestos is made up of small shard-like fibers that can easily become airborne when disturbed. If inhaled or ingested, these fibers can embed within the lining of the lungs, heart, stomach, or testes where they can cause cancer to form years or decades later.
What are asbestos-related diseases?
Asbestos exposure can cause mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer.
What causes mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is an aggressive and incurable form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Unfortunately, symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until decades after exposure.
What are the different types of mesothelioma?
Three of the most common types of mesothelioma are pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma, and pericardial mesothelioma.
What are common mesothelioma symptoms?
Common symptoms of mesothelioma include difficulty breathing and chest pains. Peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects the stomach, may cause abdominal swelling, loss of appetite, constipation, abdominal pain, and nausea.
Do I qualify for compensation if I have mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a preventable form of cancer most commonly caused by asbestos exposure. If you were exposed to asbestos while serving in the U.S. military or while working in construction, mechanics, or a similar field, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact The Ferraro Law Firm for a free legal consultation.
What is the life expectancy for someone with mesothelioma?
There is no cure for mesothelioma. However, patients can receive treatments for mesothelioma that may extend their initial prognosis with proper treatment. Those diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma usually have a life expectancy that is greater than three years, though a large part of this depends on the stage the patient is diagnosed. The earlier the diagnosis, the longer the life expectancy and chance of long-term survival.
Do I qualify for compensation if I have mesothelioma?
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you should immediately seek long-term medical treatment. After that, you should contact our firm to examine your legal rights. Since 1985, The Ferraro Law Firm has represented individuals with asbestos-related diseases and pursued fair compensation on their behalf. Our firm is one of the top five law firms in the U.S. handling mesothelioma and asbestos cases.
Help for mesothelioma victims can be found at The Ferraro Law Firm by calling (888) 554-2030. Offices in Miami and Washington, D.C.
Contact The Ferraro Law Firm at (305) 375-0111 to explore your legal options with our knowledgeable legal team.