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 - June 25, 2015

June 25, 2015 | Insights

A doctor alleged to have directed mesothelioma patients to the law firm of former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver- Dr. Robert Taub-treated a patient 22 days before Silver's firm filed a lawsuit on the patient's behalf, resulting in an $11 million verdict. (Legal Newsline) Read More »

Tags: Class Actions, Asbestos, New York

In The News Today - June 24, 2015

June 24, 2015 | Insights

The recently unsealed Garlock Sealing Technologies database is proving useful to Madison County asbestos defense attorneys who say it confirms the "staggering" amount of money exchanged in the asbestos system. (Madison-St. Clair Record) Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Class Actions, Illinois

In The News Today - June 11, 2015

June 11, 2015 | Insights

After being signed 60 days ago by Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, West Virginia's Senate Bill 411, also known as the Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Claims Transparency Act, has taken effect. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Telephone Consumer Protection Act , West Virginia

Asbestos Cases Represent 75% of Madison County, IL, Filings

June 04, 2015 | Insights

Through their efforts to fight back against the business community's spotlighting of Madison County, IL lawsuit abuses, the plaintiffs' bar has claimed that asbestos cases represent only "a fraction of total cases filed" in the county. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Class Actions, Illinois

In the News Today - June 1, 2015

June 01, 2015 | Insights

The National Law Review notes the importance of the Spokeo v. Robins case, and the U.S. Chamber's concern over "granting standing to plaintiffs who have not suffered an injury" because it "will open the floodgates to no-injury class actions brought under statutes that authorize a private right of action." (National Law Review) Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Class Actions, Third Party Litigation Funding (TPLF), Illinois

In the News Today - May 29, 2015

May 29, 2015 | Insights

Evidence submitted by Garlock Sealing Technologies shows the company's legal costs skyrocketed as a bankruptcy wave saw 28 companies establish bankruptcy trusts from 2000-2002. In 1999, Garlock paid an average of almost $10,000 to settle mesothelioma claims. By 2006, the claims paid by Garlock reached an average of almost $80,000. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2010. (Legal Newsline) Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Class Actions, Telephone Consumer Protection Act

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

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