The Mesothelioma Law Firm of Cooney and Conway began representing mesothelioma clients more than 35 years ago when a group of Johns-Manville employees from nearby Waukegan, Illinois sought our help when Johns-Manville refused to give them access to their own yearly employee chest X-ray results. Mesothelioma Lawyers of the firm intervened and the records were turned over. Manville had been concealing evidence that its employees had developed asbestosis and other asbestos related diseases. Represented by Cooney and Conway, and armed with medical proof of their injuries, the plant workers successfully filed actions against Johns Manville.
Our Case Experience
The firm has represented several thousand mesothelioma clients from many occupations. Cooney and Conway Chicago asbestos attorneys have argued on behalf of clients in many landmark cases that have shaped mesothelioma litigation in Illinois and nationwide. Some of these include:
In re Johns-Manville Asbestos Cases, 511 F. Supp. 1229 in which the United States District Court ruled that Manville plant workers were not limited to workers' compensation claims against the Manville Corporations.
VaSalle v. Celotex, 161 Ill.App.3d 808. The Illinois Appellate Court held that asbestosis and cancer are two separate injuries. If a worker is initially diagnosed with asbestosis and years later develops mesothelioma or another malignancy, he has the right to return to court and file a new lawsuit.
Tragarz v. Keene, 980 F.2d 411 (7th Cir. 1992), in which the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld the application of joint and several liability in asbestos personal injury cases.
Cooney and Conway was honored to submit Amicus Curiae or "Friend of the Court" briefs to the Illinois Supreme Court in two very important cases, Thacker v. UNR Industries, Inc., 151 Ill. 2d 343, and Best v. Taylor Machine Works 179 Ill. 2d 367.
In Thacker, the Illinois Supreme Court held that exposure to asbestos fibers could be proven through "fiber drift" evidence, meaning that a plaintiff exposed to asbestos used elsewhere on a jobsite did not have to establish hands-on use of the defendant's product in order to prove that he had inhaled asbestos dust from the defendant's product.
In Best, the Illinois Supreme Court declared the 1995 Civil Justice Reform Act unconstitutional. Among other restrictions, the Reform Act had terminated all mesothelioma claimants' right to bring a lawsuit. The Cooney and Conway "Friend of the Court" brief was one of the few such briefs accepted by the Court, and was one of the first allowed to be filed for the Supreme Court's review.
In addition to these landmark cases, Cooney and Conway lawyers have been appointed to leadership roles on almost all of the major asbestos bankruptcy committees by the United States Courts. These positions protect the rights of victims and ensure that asbestos corporations seeking bankruptcy protection are not allowed to avoid paying compensation to those they have injured in the past.
Finally, and most importantly, Cooney and Conway lawyers successfully represent mesothelioma clients at trial. Our verdicts and settlements for our clients in mesothelioma cases are some of the highest in the United States, reaching into the multi-millions in individual cases. Chicago Magazine has consistently named us as one of the 'Best Law Firms in Chicago' and we are the only firm concentrating in asbestos litigation to receive this prestigious ranking.
Cooney and Conway lawyers have been honored by organizations such as the American Association for Justice, the International Society of Barristers, the American College of Trial Lawyers, SuperLawyers, Best Lawyers in America, and leading lawyer network.
Additional Mesothelioma Information
Malignant mesothelioma is a rare but severe cancerous disease that can develop as a result of asbestos exposure.
The majority of a person’s internal organs are protected by a coating known as the mesothelium. Healthy cells in the mesothelium follow a regular life span. Cells that are afflicted with mesothelioma fail to follow this usual pattern, and may spread to other areas of the body, causing destruction.
In order to treat mesothelioma, identifying the type of the disease a person has is key. Several types of malignant mesothelioma exist. Some of the most frequent varieties include peritoneal mesothelioma, which afflicts the abdominal lining, pleural mesothelioma, which is concentrated on the lung lining, and pericardial mesothelioma, which affects the lining of the heart.
Many people who develop mesothelioma were subjected to asbestos on the job. Some of the highest risk professions include plumbing, insulating, and bricklaying. As a result, victims of mesothelioma may have legal rights against the manufacturers of asbestos. To protect your rights, you should reach out to an attorney who can evaluate the facts with you and advise you if you have a case.
Symptoms of Mesothelioma
Mesothelioma generally takes several decades following asbestos exposure to develop. Physical signs to watch for include respiratory and breathing problems, changes in weight, and chest and/or stomach pain. Swelling in the abdomen may also be a sign of mesothelioma. These symptoms may develop as a result of fluid building up in the tissues around the lungs or in the abdomen. If you notice any changes in your health, you should always see a doctor, who can ask the appropriate questions and run the necessary tests in order to properly diagnose you.
Risk Factors Associated with Mesothelioma
Although mesothelioma is a relatively rare cancer, reported incidence rates have increased in the past 20 years. Almost all people who develop mesothelioma have worked on jobs where they inhaled asbestos particles. In fact, a history of asbestos exposure at work is reported in the vast majority of cases. Usually, the risk of mesothelioma will increase with heavier and longer exposure to asbestos. However, some individuals with only brief exposures have developed mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma also occurs more often in men than in women, and risk increases with age. Yet, mesothelioma may appear in either men or women at any age.
There is also some evidence that family members and others living with asbestos workers have an increased risk of developing mesothelioma. This risk may be the result of exposure to asbestos dust brought home on the clothing and hair of someone who worked with asbestos. Discuss your concerns with an attorney with experience in this area.
Who is at Risk for Asbestos Exposure?
Many people wonder if they are, or have been, exposed to the health risks caused by asbestos. Health hazards from asbestos dust have been recognized in workers exposed in shipbuilding trades, asbestos mining and milling, manufacturing of asbestos textiles and other asbestos products, insulation work in the construction and building trades, brake repair, and a variety of other trades. Demolition workers, drywall removers, and firefighters also may be exposed to asbestos dust.
People whose work brings them into contact with asbestos -- workers who renovate buildings with asbestos in them, for example -- may inhale fibers that are in the air; this is called occupational exposure. Workers' families may inhale asbestos fibers released by clothes that have been in contact with asbestos-containing materials; this is called paraoccupational exposure. People who live or work near asbestos-related operations might inhale asbestos fibers that have been released into the air by such operation; this is called neighborhood exposure.
The amount of asbestos to which someone is exposed will vary, according to:
- The concentration of fibers in the air;
- The duration of exposure;
- The person's breathing rate (workers doing manual labor breathe faster);
- Weather conditions; and,
- Any protective devices the person might be wearing.
Although it is known that the risk to workers increases with heavier exposure and longer exposure time, investigators have found asbestos-related diseases in individuals who had only brief exposures. Workers who develop asbestos-related diseases may show no signs of illness for a long time after their first exposure. It can take from 10 to 40 years for symptoms of an asbestos-related condition to appear. Because of this latency, lawyers are often asked if there is still time to make a claim for an injury or illness caused by asbestos.
There May Still Be Time To Make A Claim
Many people who have suffered injuries from toxic substances such as asbestos did not know of the health risks at the time of the exposure. As a result, some states have enacted laws allowing people to file lawsuits for a certain amount of time after their asbestos-related illness was diagnosed, rather than from the date of the exposure. An attorney can tell you whether you still have time to file a lawsuit within the limitation period applicable in your state.
Compensation For Asbestos Exposure Injuries
Many effects of toxic asbestos exposure are permanent and irreversible. Although the law seeks to place an injured person in the position he or she was in before an injury, this usually is not possible. Instead, economic compensation for the victim's damage is awarded. A plaintiff who can prove that he or she was exposed to asbestos may be able to recover for both the economic and noneconomic consequences of that exposure, including:
- The cost of past and future medical care;
- The cost of necessary rehabilitation;
- Lost past and future wages;
- Lost earning capacity;
- Lost enjoyment of life;
- Emotional distress; and,
- Past and future pain and suffering.
Another kind of damages that plaintiffs injured by asbestos may be able to recover are "punitive" damages. Punitive damages are intended not to compensate the victim for his or her losses, but to punish the defendant's wrongful conduct. Although punitive damage awards receive a lot of media attention, they are in fact quite rare. The amount of punitive damages awarded is usually based on the wealth of the defendant and the magnitude of its wrongful conduct. Some states require that a portion of punitive damage awards be paid to the state.
If you would like further information about our asbestos practice, or would like a complimentary analysis of your or a family member's potential case, please call the mesothelioma lawyers hotline at 888-875-7899, or complete the Free Case Evaluation. Our asbestos law firm is pleased to have the opportunity to be of service.
If you are concerned about potential exposure to asbestos, or if you or a loved one suffer from asbestosis, mesothelioma, or another medical condition associated with asbestos exposure, you should take action to protect your legal rights by discussing your case with an experienced asbestos/mesothelioma attorney.