Located across the Mississippi River from St. Louis, Madison County, IL, led the nation in asbestos lawsuit filings in 2015, with 1,000+ cases filed there through the year.
In 2015, asbestos lawyers filed 1,012 mesothelioma cases in Madison County, IL, according to research from consulting firm KCIC. That accounts for just under half of all asbestos lawsuit filings in the U.S. for the year. More broadly, in terms of all asbestos cases, including mesothelioma, 25 percent were heard in Madison County in 2015.
Simply put, Madison County far outpaces other jurisdictions for asbestos related cases. Cook County, IL – the jurisdiction with the next highest total – heard just 114 mesothelioma lawsuits last year.
The county is no stranger to asbestos cases. In 2003, a Madison County jury awarded the largest settlement in an asbestos lawsuit, $250 million, including $50 million in compensatory damages and $200 million in punitive damages. Since then, the county has continued to hand down some of the largest asbestos settlements in the country.
Why Are So Many Asbestos Cases Filed in Madison County?
Illinois has particular laws in place to protect people with mesothelioma. In particular, an expedited docket for terminally ill victims, allows cases to be tried in six months following filing. Unfortunately, many asbestos victims face that solemn fate, with life expectancies for mesothelioma patients ranging from 12 to 21 months.
The so-called "rocket docket" was put in place to ensure people who do not have long to live have the chance to provide financial assistance for medical bills, as well as compensation for victims and their families. Unlike other states with much longer trial processes, Illinois enables victims who do not have long to live can see justice served in their lifetime.
Additionally, the state also has venue laws in place that allow out-of-state plaintiffs to file lawsuits there and precedents have been set in previous cases. This enables plaintiffs nationwide to file in Madison County, if it can be proven the business conducted business in the state.
Last year, Dale Jeffs, who worked throughout his career in the insulation industry and was exposed to asbestos, tried his mesothelioma case in Madison County. Jeffs had alleged he was exposed to asbestos while working at a plant in Michigan.
Yet, the presiding judge found that since the defendant company had registered to do business in the state, appointed an agent, and had engaged in litigation in Illinois the company had consented to jurisdiction in the state.
Madison County Compared to Other Jurisdictions
Due to its venue and docket laws that benefit plaintiffs, Madison County has risen as one of the most favorable jurisdictions in the country for asbestos exposure victims.
In many other parts of the country, the possibility of a six-month window from filing to trial is unheard of. Many asbestos companies drag on litigation for 3 to 5 years in other states, and in some cases, these lawsuits can spend up to a decade tied up in the legal system. For the majority suffering from lung cancer and mesothelioma, that’s far too long.
If you you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer caused by asbestos exposure, call our free and confidential legal helpline anytime (800) 956-9876 to speak with one of our asbestos exposure lawyers.