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 Trends, Targets 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

In the News Today - April 22, 2015

April 22, 2015 | Insights

Class action plaintiffs' firm Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd has added new challenges to its lawsuit against Imperial Holdings over the life insurance settlement company's adoption of a "minimum-stake-to-sue" bylaw. That bylaw requires "shareholders to amass written consent from a minimum percentage of their fellow investors in order to sue the board." (Reuters) Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Class Actions, Florida

In the News Today - April 20, 2015

April 20, 2015 | Insights

An editorial in The Wall Street Journal considers whether the arrest of former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver will expose the "rotten links between politicians and trial lawyers" in the state's courts, particularly the Consolidated Asbestos Litigation docket. (Wall Street Journal) Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Class Actions, Legal Ethics, New York

Madison County's "No. 1!" Ranking Has Out of State Plaintiffs' Lawyers Cheering, Local Taxpayers Footing the Bill

April 15, 2015 | Insights

You can almost hear the chants coming from Madison County, Illinois: "We're number 1! We're number 1! We're number 1!" Read More »

Tags: Lawsuit Abuse Impact, Class Actions, Asbestos, Illinois

New York Judge Sets Aside $11 Million Ford Asbestos Verdict

April 15, 2015 | Insights

New York Judge Barbara Jaffe set aside an $11 million verdict against Ford Motor Co. on Monday, finding that the plaintiff's general causation expert failed to establish a link between the plaintiff's mesothelioma-related death and his exposure to asbestos when working on automotive parts. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, New York

Judge: Failure to Probe Silver-Connected Court Would be "Judicial Malpractice"

April 10, 2015 | Insights

Justice Peter Moulton, Manhattan's new chief civil judge, said it would be "judicial malpractice" if he failed to investigate the court that may have facilitated the fast-tracking of asbestos cases brought by Sheldon Silver-linked law firm, Weitz & Luxenberg. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Class Actions, Legal Ethics, New York

In the News Today - April 9, 2015

April 09, 2015 | Insights

Law firm Belluck & Fox has moved to block an order issued in March by a North Carolina magistrate judge allowing gasket-maker Garlock Sealing Technologies to subpoena documents from 55 bankruptcy trusts and claims processing facilities involved in bringing misleading litigation against the now-defunct company. (Law360) Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Class Actions, North Carolina

In the News Today - April 3, 2015

April 03, 2015 | Insights

An op-ed in The Wall Street Journal today examines how "recent events have raised serious questions about personal-injury law firms' aggressive recruitment of asbestos clients and the legitimacy of the claims they file." (Wall Street Journal) Read More »

Tags: Legal Ethics, Class Actions, Asbestos

In the News Today - April 2, 2015

April 02, 2015 | Insights

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange has done an about-face on his 2010 statement that "private attorneys would not represent the State in litigation against BP," and has appointed two Alabama firms to sue the company on behalf of the state. (Legal Newsline) Read More »

Tags: State Attorneys General, Legal Ethics, Class Actions, Asbestos, New York, Alabama

ILR Commends New Arkansas AG Sunshine and Arizona Asbestos Claims Reform Laws

April 02, 2015 | Insights

ILR President Lisa A. Rickard yesterday released two statements praising both Arkansas and Arizona for their recent progress in reforming attorney general sunshine and asbestos claims laws in the respective states. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Class Actions, State Attorneys General, State Legal Reforms, State Tort Reform, Arizona, Arkansas

Exposing the Inner Workings of the 'Lucrative' Asbestos Litigation Scheme

March 27, 2015 | Insights

Forbes' Daniel Fisher writes the story of how Garlock Sealing Technologies' bankruptcy proceedings, led by Garlock attorney Garland Cassada, exposed "the inner workings of one of the longest-running and most lucrative schemes in the American litigation business." Read More »

Tags: Asbestos

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