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 - March 26, 2015

March 26, 2015 | Insights

As U.S. banks prepare their first quarter reports, many are concerned that sharing information about their coffers for potential legal settlements with the government will "paint a target" on their backs, causing regulators to aim for larger settlements than they would otherwise. (Global Legal Post) Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, State Legal Reforms, Georgia, New Mexico, West Virginia

Aetna Wins Access to Asbestos Claim Files in Garlock Bankruptcy

March 26, 2015 | Insights

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge George R. Hodges yesterday granted a motion by Aetna, Inc. to obtain statements filed by plaintiffs' lawyers in the bankruptcy of gasket maker Garlock Sealing Technologies. Aetna is one of several insurers seeking asbestos claims information in the case in which it ostensibly expects to find double-dipping fraud on the part of plaintiffs' lawyers. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos

Report: Weitz & Luxenberg Sits on 15 Bankruptcy Trust Advisory Committees

March 16, 2015 | Insights

"A fox guarding the hen house" is how Measley's Asbestos Bankruptcy Report describes the fact that the Weitz & Luxenberg plaintiffs' firm "sits on 15 advisory committees for trusts set up by bankrupt companies to compensate victims." Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, New York

ILR Praises WV Legislature's Continued 'Historic' Passage of Legal Reforms, Urges Governor to Sign Bills

March 13, 2015 | Insights

"West Virginia stands at the edge of closing a historic session for legal reforms that will benefit all of its citizens. Guarding against ‘double dip' asbestos claims and run-away jury awards will discourage fraudulent lawsuits and help to brighten the state's economic future.
" Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, West Virginia

In The News Today - March 6, 2015

March 06, 2015 | Insights

"It's all about bringing transparency," said ILR Executive Vice President Harold Kim, commenting on Arizona House Bill 2603. The bill requires plaintiffs' attorneys to disclose whether they have already or plan to seek damages from bankruptcy trusts established by asbestos-related companies. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Class Actions, State Legal Reforms, Arizona, Oregon, South Carolina

In The News Today - March 4, 2015

March 04, 2015 | Insights

"Recent reports in the New York media paint the New York City Asbestos Litigation court and its former chief judge as essentially dirty," reports Legal Newsline," giving special treatment to a certain plaintiffs law firm and paving the way for hefty paydays." (Legal Newsline) Read More »

Tags: State Attorneys General, Class Actions, Asbestos, New York, Mississippi

Retired NY Supreme Court Justice Replaced Amid Federal 'Silver Scandal' Probe

March 03, 2015 | Insights

Retired Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Sherry Klein Heitler is being succeeded by Justice Peter H. Moulton as federal prosecutors continue their probe into whether her court gave "red-carpet treatment" to civil-asbestos related cases connected to former Assembly Sheldon Silver's federal corruption case. Read More »

Tags: Class Actions, Asbestos, New York

West Virginia Senate Passes Asbestos Trust Transparency Legislation

March 02, 2015 | Insights

On Friday, the West Virginia Senate unanimously passed the Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Claims Transparency Act and the Asbestos and Silica Claims Priorities Act. The bill sets out standards and procedures for the handling of certain asbestos and silica claims and, importantly, requires the disclosure of any existing or potential asbestos bankruptcy trust claims. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, West Virginia

In The News Today - February 26, 2015

February 26, 2015 | Insights

ILR's Faces of Lawsuit Abuse commends the Supreme Court for "letting John Yates off the hook" in Yates v. United States, a case wherein the fisherman was alleged to have destroyed a "tangible object" in violation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act when released three fish into the ocean. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos

Scandal 'Plaintiff-Buying' Scheme Just Business as Usual?

February 25, 2015 | Insights

At the heart of the charges against former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is a "plaintiff-buying" scheme which Washington Examiner today notes may be an insidious ongoing practice in the domain of asbestos litigation. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos

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