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There can be multiple defendants in mesothelioma lawsuits

The health hazards associated with exposure to asbestos have been around for more than 200 years. The first documented cases of the medical condition we now call mesothelioma come to us from the 1930s. Abatement programs to remove asbestos from buildings have been going on since the early 1970s, yet we are still hearing of cases of exposure due to asbestos found in manufactured products today.

More than one negligent party

Individuals who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and other cancers related to exposure to asbestos fibers have a legal recourse for a settlement fund established by several manufacturers. People may not know, however, that it is possible to file a lawsuit against one or more manufacturers.

For example, in a case filed in the St. Louis 22nd Judicial Court, a former North Carolina worker diagnosed with cancer has named three corporations as defendants in a negligence suit; alleging they all knew the dangers asbestos posed. While working at locations operated or owned by CBS, Dow Chemical and Union Carbide, the man alleges he was put in a position to either inhale or absorb the micro-fibers, resulting in a cancer diagnosis many years later.

More than one defendant? 

When seeking damages in a lawsuit, the courts allow plaintiffs to name multiple defendants who may be determined to share negligence resulting in damages. The lawsuit will, in effect, have multiple components, as well. First, the courts must decide whether the suit can proceed against the named defendant or defendants, based on the evidence submitted. The case may proceed toward trial only against the defendants the court decides share possible liability. In cases such as the one filed in St. Louis, the multiple defendants may choose to defend themselves corporately (as one body) or independently.

The intended result

Ultimately, the claimant in the case is seeking full and fair damages, either in a settlement or from a jury award, if the case proceeds to a jury trial. The evidence may expose one of the parties as liable for the majority of damages, with the other two held liable for a lesser percentage of the settlement or award. In this case, the total amount sought is "$50,000, plus interest"which may not seem like a lot of money for medical costs. But the claim is also seeking additional, "costs and all further relief as the court may deem just and equitable."

Unless the plaintiff agrees to a settlement with the defendants, it will be up to the court to decide the full extent of costs and all further relief, which may include pain and suffering and other damages. In addition to the dollar amount of the awarded damages, the court may also have to decide how the defendants who remain named in the suit will have to split the award payment.

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