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

Insights & Inconsistencies: Lessons from the Garlock Trust Claims

February 19, 2016 | This report analyzes asbestos bankruptcy trust claims forms from the recent Garlock bankruptcy to address patterns of inconsistent and fraudulent claiming from one trust to another.

The ILR Research Review - Winter 2015

December 22, 2015 | This edition of the ILR Research Review offers valuable insights from the latest of ILR's research on state legal climates, data privacy, multidistrict litigation (MDL) proceedings, and trial lawyer marketing.

All Results for Asbestos

In the News Today - April 22, 2016

April 22, 2016 | Insights

Prosecutors Ask for Additional Jail Time for Sheldon Silver: Prosecutors asked a federal judge to sentence convicted former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to more prison time than the 10 years suggested by the Probation Department. Read More »

In Wake of Silver Conviction, New York Assembly Democrats Sponsor Asbestos Trust Transparency Bill

April 11, 2016 | Insights

Eight New York Assembly Democrats are sponsoring an asbestos trust transparency bill, reports Forbes/Legal Newsline. This comes in the wake of the conviction of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver over charges he steered state grant money to a doctor whose asbestos research center then referred patients to a law firm, resulting in millions in fees for Silver. Read More »

In the News Today - April 7, 2016

April 07, 2016 | Insights

Madison County's High Number of Out-of-County Asbestos Filings Highlighted: In 2015, only six of 1,224 asbestos lawsuits (less than 1 percent) filed in Madison County, IL were on behalf of the county's residents. Read More »

INFOGRAPHIC: ILR Report Reveals Troubling Inconsistencies in Garlock Trust Claims

April 05, 2016 | Insights

ILR's new report, Insights & Inconsistencies: Lessons from the Garlock Trust Claims, is the latest example to offer growing evidence of fraud in the trust system, underscoring the urgent need for Congressional oversight and reform. Read More »

Madison County's Share of Non-Local Asbestos Lawsuits Grows

April 01, 2016 | Insights

In Madison County (IL) courts, the more things change, the more they . . . get worse? That's the only plausible conclusion from a recent Madison-St. Clair Record analysis of asbestos cases in the notorious legal jurisdiction. Read More »

In the News Today - April 1, 2016

April 01, 2016 | Insights

ILR Applauds Signing of Utah Law to Curb Asbestos Fraud: "Utah's new law aimed at stopping plaintiffs' lawyer 'double dipping' is a significant step toward fighting asbestos lawsuit abuse," said ILR President Lisa A. Rickard in a statement. Read More »

U.S. Chamber Applauds Signing of Utah Law to Curb Asbestos Fraud

March 31, 2016 | Press Release

Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), made the following statement today about Utah Governor Gary Herbert signing into law a bill to curb "double dip" claims against asbestos bankruptcy trusts and in the tort system. Read More »

Tennessee Joins Ranks of States with Law to Fight Asbestos Fraud

March 30, 2016 | Insights

Last week, Tennessee joined a growing number of states that have passed laws to combat asbestos fraud. Tennessee's new law aimed at stopping plaintiffs' lawyer 'double dipping' - seeking money from multiple asbestos trusts in addition to bringing a lawsuit, all on behalf of the same individual - is a significant step toward fighting asbestos lawsuit abuse. Read More »

ILR State Allies Blog Series: Tennessee Chamber of Commerce

March 29, 2016 | Insights

Tennessee is best known for its barbeque and country music, but the state is home to much more than that. To make sure that the state remains a friendly place for businesses to start and grow, the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce works to keep Elvis, not litigation, king. Read More »

Tennessee Joins Ranks of States with Law to Fight Asbestos Fraud

Author: Harold Kim, Executive Vice President U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform | March 29, 2016 | Insights

Last week, Tennessee joined a growing number of states that have passed laws to combat asbestos fraud. Tennessee's new law aimed at stopping plaintiffs' lawyer 'double dipping' - seeking money from multiple asbestos trusts in addition to bringing a lawsuit, all on behalf of the same individual - is a significant step toward fighting asbestos lawsuit abuse. Read More »

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