What is Asbestos Litigation?

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  • Written By: Charity Delich
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 16 February 2020
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Asbestos litigation refers to lawsuits filed against asbestos manufacturers, suppliers, employers, or other relevant entities. Typically, a case is filed by a plaintiff who has contracted an asbestos-related disease, such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, or asbestosis, as a result of being exposed to certain asbestos products at a specific location. In filing the suit, the plaintiff is generally seeking to be financially compensated for any injuries that he or she suffered as a result of asbestos exposure.

In the late 1920s, the first recorded asbestos litigation case was filed against a manufacturer of an asbestos product. Since that initial case, a large number of these suits have been filed worldwide. Asbestos litigation has been particularly common in the United States, where it’s been recorded as one of the longest running mass torts in history. As a result of this massive amount of lawsuits, many asbestos manufacturers, distributors, and other companies have either gone out of business or filed for bankruptcy protection over their asbestos liability.


Asbestos fibers were historically used as a construction material, although use is now highly regulated and very limited in many countries. A typical plaintiff filing an asbestos litigation case has been regularly exposed to the asbestos fibers while on the job. For instance, a plaintiff who worked in a power plant, construction industry, or steel mill may have developed a serious heart, lung, or cancerous condition as a result of having had regular contact with products containing asbestos fibers. In addition, the plaintiff’s family members or friends may have been at risk for contracting a disease as a result of secondhand asbestos exposure. Many asbestos-related diseases have a latency period of up to fifty years, making the condition show up long after someone’s been exposed.

In general, an asbestos litigation case is based on the premise that a manufacturer, distributor, employer, or other responsible entity knew about the dangers associated with asbestos products and failed to advise workers of the potential dangers associated with their products. As a result of this failure to warn, a plaintiff may claim that he or she developed a debilitating, or even deadly, asbestos-related disease.

Asbestos litigation can allow a plaintiff who has contracted an asbestos-related illness to recover compensation for his or her pain and suffering. Generally, the plaintiff seeks compensation for any health care expenses incurred as a result of having contracted an asbestos-related condition. In some cases, the plaintiff — or his or her family members — may also recover damages relating to debilitation or wrongful death.


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