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 $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. 526 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, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin have enacted similar laws.

Research

The ILR Research Review-Volume 2,
Issue 2

December 22, 2015 | The ILR Research Review offers valuable insights from our preeminent experts and specialists on key topics addressed in the latest of ILR's research reports.

The Waiting Game: Delay and Non-Disclosure of Asbestos Trust Claims

December 17, 2015 | This paper addresses the lack of transparency in asbestos bankruptcy trust systems, and the intentional delay and suppression of trust disclosures by plaintiffs and their counsel.

All Results for Asbestos

In the News Today - February 5, 2016

February 05, 2016 | Insights

Retired Brigadier General Calls on Senators to Support FACT Act: "S. 357 will ensure that trusts have sufficient funds to pay legitimate claims by helping to eliminate fraud in the system. I believe the FACT Act will not interfere with or delay asbestos victims' ability to file legitimate lawsuits or trust claims," wrote James L. Bauerle BG, USA, (Ret.), legislative chairman, The Military/Veterans Coalition of Indiana, in a letter to four U.S. Senators. (American Security News) Read More »

House Judiciary Passes Fraudulent Joinder Bill; Senate Judiciary Holds FACT Act Hearing

February 04, 2016 | Insights

"This bill would keep legal claims in federal court that properly belong there by allowing federal judges to decide whether a local party is truly a legitimate defendant and not put there solely to keep the case in a trial lawyer-friendly state court," said ILR President Lisa A. Rickard in commending the U.S. House Judiciary Committee for passing the "Fraudulent Joinder Prevention Act of 2015," reports Legal Newsline. Read More »

State Civil Justice Groups Highlight Need to Pass FACT Act

February 02, 2016 | Insights

Palmetto Business Daily highlights support for the FACT Act from South Carolina's civil justice group, also noting that U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which will hold a hearing on the bill tomorrow. Read More »

Disclosures in Garlock Case Lead Second Company to Accuse Asbestos Firms of Racketeering

January 27, 2016 | Insights

John Crane Inc. has asked a judge to allow the company to join Garlock Sealing Technologies' racketeering case against the Simon Greenstone law firm in Dallas and the Shein Law Center in Philadelphia. Read More »

In the News Today - January 13, 2016

January 13, 2016 | Insights

Congress Takes Important Step in Preventing Asbestos Fraud: The U.S. House's passage of the FACT Act last week is an important step toward stopping pervasive fraud in the secretive asbestos trust system, which currently holds about $30 billion in assets. It's time for plaintiffs' lawyers to be held accountable. And it's time for the Senate to follow the House's lead and take up this vital piece of legislation. (ILR Blog) Read More »

Congress Takes Important Step in Preventing Asbestos Fraud

January 13, 2016 | Insights

On January 8th, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act. It's an important step toward stopping pervasive fraud in the secretive asbestos trust system, which currently holds about $30 billion in assets. Read More »

In the News Today - January 11, 2016

January 11, 2016 | Insights

Farenthold Advocates for FACT Act: "People who are gaming the system (making) multiple claims in state or federal courts. You are only supposed to be compensated once," said Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX), explaining why his House-passed FACT Act deserves to be enacted. (Examiner) Read More »

In the News Today - January 8, 2016

January 08, 2016 | Insights

No Copyright for Monkey, Rules Judge: U.S. District Judge William Orrick III offered a provisional opinion that Naruto the macaque monkey - despite a lawsuit by PETA that claims otherwise - cannot claim copyright over a series of "monkey selfie" photos taken in 2011. "The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform ranked the lawsuit the most ridiculous of 2015," reports CNN. (CNN.com) Read More »

FACT Act Could Face Full House Vote This Week

January 07, 2016 | Insights

The Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act is expected to face a full U.S. House vote this week. Two key stories appeared in today's media regarding that expected vote. Read More »

In the News Today - December 23, 2015

December 23, 2015 | Insights

Texas Veterans Group Supports FACT Act: "This legislation will protect veterans by curbing fraud and preserving bankruptcy-trust resources for future claims," Morgan Little, chairman of the Texas Coalition of Veterans Organizations, said in a recent letter to U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX), sponsor of the FACT Act. (American Security News) Read More »

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