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 Targets, Trends 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

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

Law Professor Memo Asserts Discovery Abuse by Plaintiffs Firms in Garlock Case

February 24, 2015 | Insights

A memo submitted by a law professor to federal Judge George Hodges in the Garlock Sealing Technologies' bankruptcy proceedings alleges discovery abuse by plaintiffs' firms. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Discovery

In The News Today - February 20, 2015

February 20, 2015 | Insights

Investment firm Gray Financial Group Inc. has lodged a suit against the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in the latest of a wave of challenges against the body's use of administrative courts. Read More »

Tags: Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) , Legal Ethics, Asbestos, New York

Did 'Silver Arrest' Scrutiny Cause Judge to Slash Record Asbestos Payout?

February 13, 2015 | Insights

Since former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's arrest, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Joan Madden reportedly had "come under scrutiny for the sky-high damages that juries in her court have awarded to Weitz & Luxenberg clients." Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Legal Ethics, New York

In The News Today - February 11, 2015

February 11, 2015 | Insights

A Hofstra University Law School professor hired by Weitz & Luxenberg apparently found that the law firm did "nothing wrong" regarding its relationship with former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Legal Ethics, New York

In The News Today - February 9, 2015

February 09, 2015 | Insights

"Judges have helped turn Manhattan's special asbestos court into a gold mine for Sheldon Silver's law firm - and a former Long Island congresswoman could also reap the rewards." Read More »

Tags: Legal Ethics, Asbestos, New York

Making Congressional Asbestos Reform a Priority a "Sign of Strength"

February 06, 2015 | Insights

Sara Warner writes in The Huffington Post about this week's House Judiciary Committee hearing on the Furthering Asbestos Claims Transparency (FACT) Act. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos

U.S. Chamber Commends House Judiciary Committee Hearing on Asbestos Trust Transparency Legislation

February 04, 2015 | Press Release

Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), made the following statement regarding today's hearing on the "Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2015" (H.R. 526) in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. The legislation would require asbestos personal injury settlement trusts, which currently operate with little oversight and transparency, to report on their claims. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos

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