The city of New York is where many of the country’s mesothelioma and asbestos-related disease lawsuits are heard. It is the location of an asbestos court that has been established specifically to address the various issues involving asbestos exposure. However, many of the asbestos companies that face accusations of negligence and claims of liability are arguing that they are being treated unfairly by the asbestos court. They recently asked the state’s top court — the New York Court of Appeals — to weigh in on their concerns, but that request has been denied.
The asbestos companies have appealed a recent judicial order that exposes them to punitive damages in cases of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. When companies have been found guilty in these cases, they have generally faced orders to pay economic and compensatory damages that pay victims for their medical expenses and other economic damages, as well as for pain and suffering. Punitive damages are meant to exact a financial punishment for wrongdoing, and in at least one pending case the amount being sought in punitive damages reaches as high as $50 million dollars, and in a recent case an asbestos court jury awarded a mesothelioma victim’s family $60 million, including punitive damages. Though asbestos victims see these decisions as justified, the asbestos companies argue that they are being treated unfairly, both by the renewed allowance of punitive damages and victims’ access to an accelerated docket process that gives them only five months in which to prepare for trial. The accelerated docket has been specifically introduced because of the short survival time of mesothelioma victims, and is designed to allow victims the ability to have their day in court. The Court of Appeals’ rejection of their request to hear the case is an indication that the judges do not agree, particularly because the asbestos defendants are able to appeal the verdict that includes the punitive damages after a verdict has been reached.
Though the asbestos companies are not happy with the New York court’s decision, it represents a victory for mesothelioma victims and others who have been harmed by asbestos. If you need information about any of the resources or rights available to those suffering from asbestos-related diseases, we can help. Contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608.