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.

All Results for Asbestos

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

Author: Mark A. Behrens, Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P. | December 06, 2016 | Research

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. Read More »

In the News Today - November 30, 2016

November 30, 2016 | News and Blog

Attorneys for a group of plaintiffs in a $30 million class action settlement with Wells Fargo over alleged violations of the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act have requested more than $9 million in fees, costs and expenses. Read More »

In the News Today - November 29, 2016

November 29, 2016 | News and Blog

Property and casualty insurers in the U.S. "can expect losses from third-party liability asbestos claims to increase 18 percent to $100 billion," according to a new report by A.M. Best. Read More »

In the News Today -- November 2, 2016

November 02, 2016 | News and Blog

What do you get when you mix two of the most pro-litigation tools in America today? Read More »

Did Boston-based asbestos plaintiffs' firm tie partners' bonuses to political contributions?

October 31, 2016 | News and Blog

Three founding partners, and one partner's wife, at the Boston-based asbestos plaintiffs' firm, Thornton Law Firm, contributed almost $1.6 million to Democratic Party fundraising committees and candidates from 2010 through 2014. Over the same period, the lawyers received $1.4 million listed as "bonuses" in Thornton Law Firm records; more than 280 of the political contributions precisely matched bonuses that were paid within 10 days, reports The Boston Globe. Read More »

In the News Today - October 24, 2016

October 24, 2016 | News and Blog

Fair Courts Now, a campaign committee created to oppose Republican candidates for the Fifth District Appellate Court, spent $500,000 for broadcast and digital media spots. Read More »

The ILR Research Review - Fall 2016

September 22, 2016 | Research

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. Read More »

WATCH: Deterring Fraud in the Longest Running Mass Tort in History

September 20, 2016 | News and Blog

40 years of asbestos lawsuits have bankrupted almost 100 companies, costing tens of thousands of jobs. It's the longest running mass tort in history. Read More »

In the News Today -- August 3, 2016

August 03, 2016 | News and Blog

North Charleston, SC-based Deaton law firm was second among a list of firms for the average number of defendants in an asbestos suit, according to a report by KCIC and Bates White. Read More »

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