Asbestos was called the “miracle mineral” by the Greeks especially because it could withstand heat. Due to this characteristic of this element, it was widely used in the construction industry until the late 1900s. Until recently, the bad effects of using this material weren’t known to the public, but when it came to light, it was too late. By the time the authorities found out that it was a killer, countless number of innocents had lost their lives in the fight against asbestos poisoning. The inhalation of asbestos fibers commonly causes mesothelioma, lung cancer, and also asbestosis.
Asbestos has killed many millions in the past couple of centuries since its heat resistant properties were discovered and asbestos was mined in many countries. It was very late when the health departments in all the countries found out that their miracle mineral was actually a killer mineral that had claimed the lives of millions of people. Many cases have been filed over the decades against those responsible for causing countless number of people to have lost their lives and health by making them work in asbestos mines and mills. The estimated total cost of the asbestos litigations in the United States of America alone is over 250 billion dollars.
It was widely used in the construction industry all over the world as it was heat resistant, flexible, durable, and even chemical resistant. But to decide whether the use of a certain material should be made legal or illegal depends on weighing its pros and cons. In this case, the cons far outweigh the pros. Inhalation of asbestos fibers has sparked the birth of a cancer called mesothelioma in humans which according to the Institute of Medicine (IOM) had claimed the lives of almost one hundred thousand Americans in 1999 alone. They recommended considering it as an epidemic of the worst kind.
The federal court houses in the United States have been dealing with claims by asbestos victims and their families for decades. The court houses are stunned by the number of asbestos related claims which range in the hundreds of thousands. What does bother the court houses in the United States is the number of asbestos related cases that they will be seeing in the future as asbestos related problems surface only after 20-50 years of exposure. The Fairness of Asbestos Compensation Act which was brought out in 1999 was used to determine if the numerous plaintiffs who were filing law suits were indeed suffering from asbestos related illness.
Asbestos Litigation & Lawsuits
The asbestos litigation is the most expensive and longest mass tort in the history of US court houses. The numbers of defendants are almost 10,400 but the numbers of claimants are almost a million with the number growing with each passing day. With the number of such litigations piling up in court houses all over the United States, the country issued the Asbestos Ban and Phase Out Rule in 1989. Many countries followed this path in banning its import and use to safe guard their people. Though developed countries have banned its use many developing countries are still using it.