In a notable victory for a mesothelioma victim, the Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit has overturned a trial court decision that would have left the victim unable to collect the compensation they were owed. The decision not only allows justice for the individual victim, but also establishes an important precedent for victims going forward.
Mesothelioma victim’s original suit was filed against asbestos company
The mesothelioma victim in this case was Nelcome Courville, who filed a lawsuit against multiple companies that had exposed him to asbestos. After Mr. Courville died his family continued to pursue his claim, but found that one of the asbestos companies — Reilly-Benton Company, Inc. — filed for bankruptcy. This forced the family to amend their claim and pursue compensation from Liberty Mutual Insurance, which was Reilly-Benton’s insurance company.
Though the mesothelioma victim’s family had anticipated that Liberty Mutual would pay any judgment against their previous client, the insurer revealed that it had a settlement agreement that protected them from having to pay damages to victims of asbestos exposure, and the trial court agreed and dismissed the claim against them. The family subsequently appealed that decision.
Appeals court overturns decision
In its review of the trial court’s decision against the mesothelioma victim’s family’s claim, the appeals court points out that an earlier Louisiana Supreme Court had precluded reformation of an insurance contract that would prejudice an injured third party, as the settlement would have injured Mr. Courville’s family.
The court wrote, “The plain language of the statute is clear; insurers and insured cannot retroactively rescind or annul policy contracts by agreement post-occurrence. The 2013 Settlement Agreement at issue in this case essentially rescinded or annulled policy contracts for injuries that were sustained decades ago. That Settlement Agreement undoubtedly violates the statute. Accordingly, the Settlement Agreement should be considered null and void as to third-party tort victims.”
Mesothelioma is a disease that is inherently unfair. Victims were exposed to asbestos without protection against or warning about its toxic nature. In the face of this injustice, the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net provide victims with the resources they need. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608.