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 Targets, Trends 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

The Indictment of Sheldon Silver and Its Impact on Legal Reform

January 27, 2015 | Insights

The indictment of New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on corruption charges continues to make headlines, especially as it relates to asbestos litigation abuse and legal reform. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, New York

U.S. Chamber Comments on Asbestos Litigation Abuses in Wake of New York Assembly Speaker Indictment

January 22, 2015 | Press Release

Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, issued the following statement today in the wake of the indictment of the New York Assembly Speaker. Read More »

Tags: Legal Ethics, Asbestos, New York

Madison County, IL Asbestos Filings Doubled in Four Years, Out-of-State Claimant Trend Continues

January 13, 2015 | Insights

1,300 asbestos lawsuits were filed in Madison County, IL courts in 2013, meaning the county's docket "has doubled in the last four years and tripled in the last seven", according to a report in the Madison-St. Clair Record. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Legal Ethics, Illinois

Wall Street Journal Highlights Asbestos 'Double-Dipping Scam', Calls on Congress to Pass FACT Act

December 26, 2014 | Insights

Highlighting the details that are coming to light as a result of the unsealing of court documents in the Garlock Sealing Technologies' bankruptcy proceedings, the Wall Street Journal editorial board today concludes that, "asbestos litigation fraud has reached new heights." Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Legal Ethics

WSJ Swipes at "America's Worst Governor" for Last Minute Gifts to the Plaintiffs' Bar

December 22, 2014 | Insights

"America's worst Governor isn't leaving without handing one more windfall to his pals in the plaintiffs bar." -- Wall Street Journal Read More »

Tags: State Legal Reforms, Asbestos, Illinois

Madison County: Still America's lawsuit field of dreams

December 14, 2014 | Insights

"If awards were given to courts that made the biggest impact in mega litigation, Madison County would surely be in the hall of fame," writes ILR President Lisa A. Rickard in the Belleville News-Democrat. Read More »

Tags: State Legal Reforms, Asbestos, Illinois

Report: 92% of Madison County, IL Asbestos Plaintiffs from Out-of-State in 2014

December 12, 2014 | Insights

As we reported earlier this week, ILR has launched a public awareness campaign in Madison County, IL, focused on the high number of out-of-county and out-of-state litigants who file asbestos lawsuits in the county's courts. Read More »

Tags: Legal Ethics, Asbestos, Illinois

This Week's Madison County, IL Asbestos Docket Reinforces Message of New ILR Awareness Campaign

December 10, 2014 | Insights

Among the 207 asbestos cases set for trial this week in Madison County, IL, only two of the plaintiffs actually live in the county. Further, as the Madison-St. Clair Record reports, only 20 of the plaintiffs even hail from the state of Illinois. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Lawsuit Abuse Impact, Legal Ethics, State Legal Reforms, Illinois

ILR President Sends Letter to Illinois Gov. Urging Veto of SB 2221

December 09, 2014 | Insights

ILR President Lisa A. Rickard sent a letter to Illinois Governor Pat Quinn yesterday urging a veto of SB 2221, a bill that would eliminate claims from asbestos-related injury from the construction statues of repose. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos

U.S. Chamber Launches Campaign to Shine Spotlight on Lawsuit Abuse in Madison County, Ill.

December 09, 2014 | Insights

Non-residents file 99 percent of asbestos cases in county's courts. Read More »

Tags: Class Actions, Asbestos, Illinois

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