Asbestos

Over the past forty years, asbestos-related litigation has forced over 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 $30 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. 1927 and S. 357, is 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 a law that requires plaintiffs to file and disclose trust claims before proceeding to trial. Arizona, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, and Wisconsin have enacted similar laws.

Research

Disconnects & Double-Dipping: The Case for Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Transparency in Virginia

December 06, 2016 | This report highlights the disconnect between asbestos bankruptcy trust and asbestos personal injury lawsuit systems by examining Garlock and other cases that expose the widespread asbestos trust manipulation and specifically looks at trust claim activity in wrongful death cases in Newport News, Virginia.

The ILR Research Review - Fall 2016

September 22, 2016 | This edition of the ILR Research Review offers valuable insights from ILR's latest research on over-criminalization and the challenges of business compliance, over-enforcement, third-party litigation funding in the UK, and asbestos trust claims.

Additional Resources

All Results for Asbestos

State AGs Probe Asbestos Bankruptcy Trusts To Recover Medicare Payments

March 21, 2017 | News and Blog

The Attorney General of Utah, Sean Reyes, has sued four of the largest asbestos bankruptcy trusts in an effort to get them to comply with civil investigative demands that more than a dozen states have sent to the trusts. These demands seek information on whether the trusts are squandering money and failing to reimburse states for Medicare and Medicaid expenditures. Read More »

In the News Today - March 17, 2017

March 17, 2017 | News and Blog

The Missouri Senate passed a bill this week by a 21-11 vote that would allow judges to decide whether experts' testimony would be reliable based on "sufficient facts" and "reliable principles and methods," as well as being "reliably applied" to the facts of the case. Read More »

U.S. Chamber Hails South Dakota for Joining Chorus of States, Congress in Combatting Asbestos Fraud

March 15, 2017 | Press Release

Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, made the following statement today on South Dakota's enactment of S.B. 138. Read More »

House Passes Sweeping Legal Reform

March 10, 2017 | News and Blog

Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Fairness in Class Action Litigation and the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2017, two pieces of legislation that were recently combined, by a vote of 220 to 201 as well as the Innocent Party Protection Act of 2017 by a vote of 224 to 194 writes National Law Journal. Read More »

U.S. Chamber Applauds House Passage of Class Action Litigation and Asbestos Trust Transparency Bill

March 09, 2017 | Press Release

Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), made the following statement today about the passage of the "Fairness in Class Action Litigation and Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2017" (H.R. 985) by the U.S. House of Representatives. Read More »

In the News Today - March 9, 2017

March 09, 2017 | News and Blog

The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on four legal reform bills (two of which have been combined) over the next two days. Today, the House will vote on the Fairness in Class Action Litigation and the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act, which have been merged, as well as the Innocent Party Protection Act of 2017. Tomorrow, the house will vote on the Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2017. Read More »

GM Sues Asbestos Trusts in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New York

March 07, 2017 | News and Blog

General Motors (GM) filed suits on Monday against asbestos trusts in three separate states seeking recovery of trust money paid to the estate of an employee who also received payments from the automaker to settle asbestos exposure claims. Read More »

Major Legal Reform Push To Hit Congress This Week

March 06, 2017 | News and Blog

A set of legal reform bills are set to go before the U.S. House of Representatives this week "in one of the most comprehensive efforts at legal reform in more than a decade," writes Law.com. Read More »

In the News Today - March 2, 2017

March 02, 2017 | News and Blog

A recent report found that Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) related litigation has increased by 37% from 2015 to 2016. Read More »

In the News Today - March 1, 2017

March 01, 2017 | News and Blog

Lawyers have seen an increase in Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) litigation in which customers claim they withdrew consent to receive text messages, but admit they did not follow the directions set out by the company as to how they should submit their withdrawal. Read More »

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