Asbestos

Over the past forty years, asbestos-related litigation has forced nearly 100 companies into bankruptcy – devastating workers, retirees, shareholders and affected communities. Some estimates project the total cost of asbestos litigation (including future claims) at more than $260 billion. Unfortunately, asbestos litigation has long been plagued by fraud and abuse. Reform is needed to protect job-creating businesses from lawsuit abuse and to ensure that legitimate victims receive the compensation they deserve. read more...

Significant litigation over asbestos-related ailments began in the 1970s and has continued unabated ever since. Indeed, asbestos litigation has developed into a billion-dollar enterprise for plaintiffs’ lawyers – as evidenced by the endless TV and online advertising targeted at potential plaintiffs. 

While asbestos lawsuits originally focused on companies that mined asbestos or manufactured asbestos-based insulation products, the collapse of these early asbestos defendants forced plaintiffs’ attorneys to begin targeting new companies, including many that had little, if anything, to do with the manufacture or supply of asbestos products. Many of these lawsuits are filed in plaintiff-friendly “magnet” jurisdictions such as Madison County, Illinois – even if neither the plaintiff nor the defendant has any real connection to the jurisdiction.

The bankruptcies of major asbestos companies also gave rise to trust funds intended to compensate future asbestos victims. Today, these trusts control assets with an estimated value of more than $36 billion. But the existence of the asbestos trusts has not slowed the wave of lawsuits against American businesses. In fact, one prominent plaintiffs’ lawyer described asbestos litigation as an “endless search for a solvent bystander.”

The asbestos trusts operate in parallel with the traditional tort system and offer only rudimentary reports on the claims they receive and pay. As a result, plaintiffs’ attorneys are sometimes able to hide the fact that a single individual is making multiple claims, citing different and contradictory exposure facts, against multiple trusts and solvent companies. This “double dipping” exposes innocent businesses to abusive lawsuits and deprives the trusts of funds intended for legitimate victims.
 

Reforms

Federal and state legislation is needed to discourage questionable claims against asbestos trusts, protect businesses from abusive lawsuits and ensure that asbestos trusts are able to compensate legitimate victims. 

The Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act, H.R. 982, is bipartisan federal legislation that would require asbestos personal injury settlement trusts to disclose information on their claims on a quarterly basis. This would allow trusts and businesses to identify and contest questionable claims.

In addition, several states have proposed legislation or changes to court rules that would mandate greater transparency for trust claims. In 2012, Ohio became the first state in the nation to enact legislation requiring plaintiffs to file and disclose trust claims before proceeding to trial. Oklahoma followed with similar legislation in 2013.

 

 

Research

Lawsuit Ecosystem II: New Trends, Targets and Players

December 04, 2014 | This report, authored by a distinguished group of practitioners, explores the evolving lawsuit "ecosystem." It considers how plaintiffs' lawyers generate litigation and significant developments that will spur more lawsuits or rein in excessive liability.

Laboratories of Tort Law: A Three-Year Review of Key State Supreme Court Decisions

December 04, 2014 | This report highlights significant tort law decisions over the past three years that are examples of particularly sound or unsound rulings. Each analysis examines the tort law principles involved, whether the court followed or deviated from these principles, and the court's reasoning in reaching its decision.

All Results for Asbestos

In the News Today - May 26, 2015

May 26, 2015 | Insights

The SEC's "whistleblower program" uses "the promise of high bounties to encourage more people to report" alleged fraud. To date, it has reportedly resulted in awards totaling more than $50 million, though attorneys report that it is extremely difficult for "whistleblowers" to actually collect their bounties. The article also reports that some whistleblowers were "short selling" the same companies on whom they "blew the whistles" right up until they reported the alleged fraud to the SEC. (Wall Street Journal) Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Texas

The FACT Act: Keeping the Hands of Trial Lawyers Out of the Asbestos Coffers

May 22, 2015 | Insights

If you've watched cable TV at all in the last few years, you've seen them - the torrent of ads promising asbestos victims their share of the $30 billion dollars set aside in asbestos trusts. What you don't hear about are the plaintiffs' attorneys behind these ads who are bleeding asbestos trusts dry with false claims. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Class Actions, Lawsuit Abuse Impact

In the News Today - May 15, 2015

May 15, 2015 | Insights

ILR President Lisa A. Rickard commends the House Judiciary Committee for its approval or H.R. 526, the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act (FACT Act). The measure prevents asbestos claims double-dipping by requiring bankruptcy trusts to disclose claims requests. (Law360) Read More »

Tags: State Attorneys General, Class Actions, Asbestos, Nevada

New Asbestos Database Reveals "Staggering" Profits in Asbestos Litigation Business

May 15, 2015 | Insights

A database recently unsealed in the Garlock Sealing Technologies' bankruptcy reveals the "staggering amount of money generated by the business of asbestos." Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Class Actions, Illinois

In the News Today - April 30, 2015

April 30, 2015 | Insights

The Wall Street Journal reports that "Wall Street banks are embroiled in an intense dispute with the U.S. government over its ‘aggressive' interpretation of foreign-bribery laws, a flurry of legal wrangling in a probe with broad implications for how corporations do business overseas." (Wall Street Journal) Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Class Actions, Lawsuit Abuse Impact, Legal Ethics, Illinois

Debate Continues Over Madison County, IL's 'High Litigation Rates'

April 30, 2015 | Insights

"Is Madison County court a litigation nightmare?" asks an Alton Telegraph story, which points to a new Illinois Civil Justice League (ICJL) study that shows the high per-capita rate of lawsuits filed in the county. Read More »

Tags: Lawsuit Abuse Impact, Class Actions, Asbestos, Illinois

In the News Today - April 22, 2015

April 22, 2015 | Insights

Class action plaintiffs' firm Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd has added new challenges to its lawsuit against Imperial Holdings over the life insurance settlement company's adoption of a "minimum-stake-to-sue" bylaw. That bylaw requires "shareholders to amass written consent from a minimum percentage of their fellow investors in order to sue the board." (Reuters) Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Class Actions, Florida

In the News Today - April 20, 2015

April 20, 2015 | Insights

An editorial in The Wall Street Journal considers whether the arrest of former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver will expose the "rotten links between politicians and trial lawyers" in the state's courts, particularly the Consolidated Asbestos Litigation docket. (Wall Street Journal) Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Class Actions, Legal Ethics, New York

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