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. 

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.
 

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

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

In The News Today - August 14, 2014

August 14, 2014 | Insights

The Washington Examiner today takes a look at the discrepancy in outcomes for Bondex International and Garlock Sealing Technologies, who recently both underwent bankruptcy proceedings due to bulk asbestos litigation. Read More »

Tags: Class Actions, Asbestos

In The News Today - August 11, 2014

August 11, 2014 | Insights

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge George Hodges released instructions and deadlines for the process of unsealing evidence introduced last year by Garlock Sealing Technologies that alleged fraud on the part of asbestos plaintiffs' attorneys. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Georgia

In The News Today - August 7, 2014

August 07, 2014 | Insights

In a decision made public on Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Otis Wright said that per a federal law governing the wind-down of failed banks, the City of Los Angeles could not hold JPMorgan responsible for the lending practices of its subsidiary, Washington Mutual Inc., over the city's allegations regarding the company's sale of mortgages in minority communities. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos

Asbestos Appeals Focus on Madison County, IL's 'Forum Shopping' Reputation

August 01, 2014 | Insights

Defendants in three separate Madison County, Ill. asbestos cases have appealed orders denying their forum non conveniens motions to dismiss. They have filed their appeals in the Appellate Court of Illinois, Fifth Judicial District. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Illinois

In The News Today - July 29, 2014

July 29, 2014 | Insights

Smith & Wesson Holding Corp. agreed to pay $2 million to resolve a Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into allegations of violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Read More »

Tags: Legal Ethics, Class Actions, Asbestos

In The News Today - July 28, 2014

July 28, 2014 | Insights

"It's good to see the right of access enforced for both media and for others, and it's especially good to see the right of access enforced in a bankruptcy case involving asbestos," said Kirk Hartley, writer of the popular Global Tort blog and founder of the LSP Group law firm. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Georgia

Judge Sides With Legal Newsline, Overturns Sealing of Fraud Evidence Against Asbestos Attorneys

July 24, 2014 | Insights

U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn, Jr., in response to a motion filed by Legal Newsline "to keep the bankruptcy estimation trial of Garlock Sealing Technologies open to the public," ruled this week that "evidence of alleged fraud" on the part of asbestos attorneys should not have been sealed. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos

NPR Cites ILR in Highlighting Impact of 'Garlock' Bankruptcy Ruling

July 24, 2014 | Insights

National Public Radio featured ILR Executive Vice President Harold Kim in a story about the landmark "Garlock" decision handed down earlier this year. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos

In The News Today - July 23, 2014

July 23, 2014 | Insights

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled that Travelers Companies should pay more than $500 million "to satisfy asbestos-related claims stemming from its coverage of policyholder Johns-Manville Corp," reversing a lower court ruling. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, New York

In The News Today - July 7, 2014

July 07, 2014 | Insights

Six insurance companies are suing an asbestos personal injury trust set up by a U.S. unit of Philips that the insurers "suspect has been making millions of dollars in fraudulent payments to parties that cannot prove they were harmed by the company's asbestos products." Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Delaware, Texas

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