Once diagnosed, mesothelioma victims quickly learn about their fatal illness, and for many that includes that it could have been prevented. Mesothelioma is caused by exposure to asbestos, and despite knowing that the material was carcinogenic, companies included it in their products and didn’t warn of its dangers. Victims seeking justice can pursue lawsuits against those companies, but in many instances those responsible have filed for bankruptcy protection or gone out of business. When an insurance company tried to avoid having to pay claims for their bankrupt client through legal maneuvering, they nearly got away with it: A court agreed that they owed no money. But an appeals court reversed that decision and allowed the victim to collect the compensation he was owed.
Insurance Company Attempts to Evade Responsibility for Mesothelioma Claim
The original lawsuit was filed by Nelcome Courville, who died of mesothelioma after filing suit against several asbestos companies. Among them was Reilly-Benton Company, Inc., which had previously filed for bankruptcy. As a result, the family pursued justice against Reilly-Benton’s insurer, Liberty Mutual, only to find that they had a settlement agreement that protected them from liability for asbestos exposure from their client’s products. Based on this agreement, the trial court determined that the family could not pursue payment, but Mr. Courville’s survivors appealed that decision to the Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Fourth Circuit.
Appeals Court Points to State Supreme Court Decision Regarding Insurance Contracts
Though the insurance company had specifically tried to avoid having to pay mesothelioma victims for their client’s negligence, the appeals court referred to a decision by the Louisiana Supreme Court meant to protect injured third parties. The justices indicated that the language of Liberty Mutual’s settlement agreement would have harmed Mr. Courville and his beneficiaries, writing, “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 The 2013 Settlement Agreement at issue in this case essentially rescinded or annulled policy contracts for injuries that were sustained decades ago.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.”
Page Reviewed and Edited by Mesothelioma Attorney Paul Danziger
Paul Danziger grew up in Houston, Texas and earned a law degree from Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago. For over 25 years years he has focused on representing mesothelioma cancer victims and others hurt by asbestos exposure. Paul and his law firm have represented thousands of people diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer, recovering significant compensation for injured clients. Every client is extremely important to Paul and he will take every call from clients who want to speak with him. Paul and his law firm handle mesothelioma cases throughout the United States.