From 1988 - 2010, the U.S. Government Accountability Office made an analysis of all payment data which showed that mesothelioma trusts have paid about 3.3 million claims valued at about $17.5 billion and that each trust has trust distribution procedures (TDP) that govern its administration and establish a process for assessing and paying claims. Typically, TDPs include sections related to the intake and evaluation of claims, payment processes, and audit programs. Claims that meet the TDP's criteria for a particular disease are paid in the amount specified in the TDP.
What is the average lawsuit worth in a Mesothelioma case? According to a recent Mealey's Litigation Report, the average mesothelioma trial award is estimated at $2.2 million. The average mesothelioma settlement is between $1 million and $1.5 million.
- Read The Full Report: Asbestos Litigation Report (PDF)
- Mealey's Litigation Report: New York Asbestos Verdicts (PDF)
Most asbestos trusts reviewed publish for public review annual financial reports and generally include total number of claims received and paid. Other information in the possession of a trust, such as an individual’s exposure to asbestos, is generally not available to outside parties but may be obtained, for example, in the course of litigation pursuant to a court-ordered subpoena. The 44 trust agreements the GAO reviewed all required that trusts submit annual financial reports to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of jurisdiction. Although TDPs typically provide that the trusts will make claim and payment information available to claimants and other parties, each trust ultimately determines what information it will make available.
Is there a statute of limitations for Mesothelioma lawsuits? Yes, In many states statutes give people up to six years from the diagnosis or discovery of mesothelioma to file a lawsuit. But it’s important to act fast, because in a few states, the statue of limitations is only one year from diagnosis.
Of the 47 trust annual financial reports for 2009 and 2010 that the GAO reviewed, all included the total amount of payments made and most included the total number of claims received and paid. One trust’s financial report contained claimant names and amounts paid to these individuals. Of the 52 trust TDPs GAO reviewed, 33 (64 percent) included sections related to protecting the confidentiality of claimants’ information and these sections often stated that the trusts will only disclose information to outside parties with permission of the claimant or in response to a valid subpoena.
Views differ on whether more trust and claimant information should be made available and there have been efforts to change the trust system. Plaintiff attorneys and trusts oppose proposals that would require additional disclosure of claimant information, such as amounts paid to individual claimants, stating that such information is available to the defense through subpoenas and that disclosure otherwise could compromise the confidentiality of claimants’ private information. Defense attorneys support additional disclosure, stating that such information could be used to offset asbestos defendants' settlements in court and reduce fraudulent claims. In recent years, there have been various proposals to require additional disclosure of claimant information. One of these proposals was recently brought before the Judicial Conference of the United States, the primary policy making body of the U.S. courts. In commenting on a draft copy of this report, the Department of Justice and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts provided technical clarifications, which GAO incorporated where appropriate.
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