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. 

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. read more...

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.


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.




Obstacles to Fair Trial: Asbestos Cases in West Virginia

January 14, 2014 | This report addresses the current state of asbestos litigation in West Virginia, which has become an increasingly critical issue to West Virginia's civil justice system over the past few decades.

A Docket on the Brink: Asbestos Litigation in Cook County

December 17, 2013 | This paper describes the development of the asbestos docket in Cook County and the evolution of current issues that threaten the administration of justice in asbestos cases. The paper also describes some options for defendants confronting these issues. However, absent reform in the administration of the docket, Cook County appears destined to continue on a path toward notoriety.

All Results for Asbestos

ILR's Lisa Rickard Quoted in Story Examining Impact of CSX Settlement

November 13, 2014 | Insights

In a Huffington Post story examining the impact of CSX's successful use of the federal RICO statute against asbestos plaintiffs' attorneys and a physician, Sara Warner quotes ILR President Lisa A. Rickard on the impact. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos

BusinessWeek Quotes ILR's Lisa Rickard on CSX 'RICO' Settlement; Analyzes Impact of Ruling on Chevron 'RICO' Case

November 10, 2014 | Insights

ILR President Lisa A. Rickard is quoted in a BusinessWeek story regarding CSX's $7.3 million legal settlement in the company's federal RICO suit against "a pair of asbestos plaintiffs' attorneys and an allied radiologist, accusing them of conspiring to bring fraudulent injury claims against the company." Read More »

Tags: Asbestos

U.S. Chamber Applauds CSX RICO Case Victory Over Fraud and Abuse in Asbestos Litigation

Author: Justin Hakes | November 07, 2014 | Press Release

Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), made the following statement today about the settlement of a RICO lawsuit against several asbestos attorneys and a radiologist by CSX Transportation for fabricating and litigating fraudulent asbestos claims against the company. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Legal Ethics

In The News Today - October 30, 2014

October 30, 2014 | Insights

In addition to "90 percent of asbestos cases in Madison County" being filed for out of state residents, defense attorneys say one way to shrink what has become a "national asbestos docket would be to reduce the number of cases set for trial during each trial week." Read More »

Tags: Discovery, Asbestos, Illinois

WSJ: Asbestos Fraud Sunshine

October 29, 2014 | Insights

In an editorial titled, "Asbestos Fraud Sunshine," the Wall Street Journal today highlights federal bankruptcy Judge George Hodges' "bold step against asbestos litigation fraud," namely his decision to unseal the evidence in the high-profile Garlock asbestos case. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Class Actions

Judge Orders All Documents Unsealed in Garlock Bankruptcy

October 17, 2014 | Insights

National Law Journal reports that a federal judge has ruled on Thursday that "all of the evidence that led him to find misrepresentations by plaintiffs" in the Garlock Sealing Technologies asbestos-related bankruptcy case must be unsealed. Read More »

Tags: Discovery, Class Actions, Asbestos

In The News Today - October 14, 2014

October 14, 2014 | Insights

The National Law Journal highlights Legal Newsline's objections "to motions by plaintiffs-who claim that exposure to Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC's products caused their asbestos-related illnesses-to seal information about their settlements in the manufacturer's pending bankruptcy." Read More »

Tags: Legal Ethics, Asbestos

In The News Today - October 9, 2014

October 09, 2014 | Insights

In response to recently filed motions to seal documents that incriminate plaintiffs' lawyers in the Garlock Sealing Technologies bankruptcy proceedings, several oppositions were filed on October 2, arguing that the motions to seal were "too vague" in that they failed to request the sealing of specific documents. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Missouri

In The News Today - October 6, 2014

October 06, 2014 | Insights

A Pennsylvania appeals court "handed a win on Friday to CBS Corp., General Electric Co. and others" in a lawsuit claiming a woman's exposure to asbestos dust "while cleaning her husband's clothes" caused a woman to develop cancer. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Pennsylvania

In The News Today - October 3, 2014

October 03, 2014 | Insights

The Official Committee of Asbestos Personal Injury Claimants, or ACC, is demanding more than $2.5 million in fees and $175,632 in expenses from Garlock Sealing Technologies for work related to the issue of sealing documents in Garlock's underlying asbestos case. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos

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