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

The ILR Research Review - Winter 2016

December 28, 2016 | This edition of the ILR Research Review offers valuable insights from ILR's latest research on the increasing use of contingency fee counsel by local governments, asbestos "double dipping," trends in trial lawyer drug and device advertising, and the public's views on data privacy liability and legal reform issues.

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.

Additional Resources

All Results for Asbestos

U.S. House Panel Approves Asbestos "Double-Dipping" Reform Bill

February 17, 2017 | News and Blog

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee has approved the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency, or FACT Act, of 2017 by a vote of 19-11. The bill targets the country's current asbestos injury compensation system writes Forbes/Legal Newsline. Read More »

In the News Today - February 16, 2017

February 16, 2017 | News and Blog

The current asbestos system is plagued by rampant fraud and abuse by plaintiffs' lawyers; this abuse harms both alleged victims and the economy. Thankfully, Congress is taking action to address this by advancing the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act, which passed out of the House Judiciary Committee yesterday. The bill, among other provisions, aims to shine a light on these trusts so that compensation goes to legitimate victims. Read More »

House Judiciary Committee Votes for Sunshine, Justice in Asbestos Litigation

February 16, 2017 | News and Blog

Some may think asbestos litigation is an "old" issue that's been on the wane. But this isn't so. Asbestos litigation continues to cost a fortune thanks, in large part, to rampant fraud and abuse. The asbestos trusts alone distribute more than a billion dollars each year. Read More »

Asbestos Double-Dipping Bill Introduced

February 14, 2017 | News and Blog

Late last week Representative Blake Farenthold submitted the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act (H.R. 906), that would increase transparency in the asbestos trust system, writes Legal Newsline. Read More »

In the News Today - February 7, 2017

February 07, 2017 | News and Blog

The Consumer Financial Protection Board Act of 2017 (S. 105) aims to amend the Consumer Financial Protection Act of 2010 by transitioning the CFPB to a 5-member Board of Directors rather than a single Director-led structure. The bill, which was introduced last month by Senators Deb Fischer, Ron Johnson, and John Barrasso, has now been referred to the Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Read More »

The Asbestos Bonanza

January 10, 2017 | News and Blog

The Washington Times writes on the "size and scale" of asbestos litigation, which "has provided a vehicle ripe for abuse by clever trial lawyers who use sick clients as courtroom pawns to capture fat fees." Read More »

Asbestos Reform Under Trump Administration

January 05, 2017 | News and Blog

There is a high likelihood that asbestos reform "will not be a joking matter" and could finally become a reality under the Trump administration, writes the Huffington Post. Read More »

In the News Today - January 4, 2017

January 04, 2017 | News and Blog

U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade cut around $500 million of punitive damages from the award in a December jury verdict that ordered Johnson & Johnson (J&J) to pay more than $1 billion to plaintiffs who said they were injured by J&J hip implants. Read More »

The ILR Research Review - Winter 2016

December 28, 2016 | Research

This edition of the ILR Research Review offers valuable insights from ILR's latest research on the increasing use of contingency fee counsel by local governments, asbestos "double dipping," trends in trial lawyer drug and device advertising, and the public's views on data privacy liability and legal reform issues. Read More »

Documentary Highlights "Asbestos Game by the Plaintiffs' Bar"

December 21, 2016 | News and Blog

A new documentary, Unsettled: Inside the Strange World of Asbestos Lawsuits, highlights several major problems with asbestos litigation. Read More »

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