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

Judge Orders All Documents Unsealed in Garlock Bankruptcy

October 17, 2014 | Insights

National Law Journal reports that a federal judge has ruled on Thursday that "all of the evidence that led him to find misrepresentations by plaintiffs" in the Garlock Sealing Technologies asbestos-related bankruptcy case must be unsealed. Read More »

Tags: Discovery, Class Actions, Asbestos

In The News Today - October 14, 2014

October 14, 2014 | Insights

The National Law Journal highlights Legal Newsline's objections "to motions by plaintiffs-who claim that exposure to Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC's products caused their asbestos-related illnesses-to seal information about their settlements in the manufacturer's pending bankruptcy." Read More »

Tags: Legal Ethics, Asbestos

In The News Today - October 9, 2014

October 09, 2014 | Insights

In response to recently filed motions to seal documents that incriminate plaintiffs' lawyers in the Garlock Sealing Technologies bankruptcy proceedings, several oppositions were filed on October 2, arguing that the motions to seal were "too vague" in that they failed to request the sealing of specific documents. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Missouri

In The News Today - October 6, 2014

October 06, 2014 | Insights

A Pennsylvania appeals court "handed a win on Friday to CBS Corp., General Electric Co. and others" in a lawsuit claiming a woman's exposure to asbestos dust "while cleaning her husband's clothes" caused a woman to develop cancer. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Pennsylvania

In The News Today - October 3, 2014

October 03, 2014 | Insights

The Official Committee of Asbestos Personal Injury Claimants, or ACC, is demanding more than $2.5 million in fees and $175,632 in expenses from Garlock Sealing Technologies for work related to the issue of sealing documents in Garlock's underlying asbestos case. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos

In the News Today - September 26, 2014

September 26, 2014 | Insights

At the HarrisMartin Midwest Asbestos Conference held in St. Louis this week, asbestos attorneys Lindsay Dibler and Melissa Crowe Schopfer discussed how the city is growing as an asbestos "personal injury jurisdiction". Read More »

Tags: Asbestos

'Full Disruption' of the American Asbestos Litigation Industry?

September 19, 2014 | Insights

Sara Warner writes at The Huffington Post that the American asbestos litigation industry is "approaching full disruption", thanks in large part to court rulings finding that plaintiffs' attorneys "may have been seriously concealing evidence." Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Class Actions, Legal Ethics

In The News Today - September 19, 2014

September 19, 2014 | Insights

The Coca-Cola Co. is urging an Alabama magistrate judge to "rethink his recommendation keeping alive" a proposed TCPA class action suit over alleged unsolicited text messages. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Class Actions, Legal Ethics, Alabama, Washington

In The News Today - September 15, 2014

September 15, 2014 | Insights

According to a report filed on Friday, the NFL could be responsible to pay approximately $950 million "in total concussion claims over the course of its 65-year settlement term, assuming that roughly 60 percent of class members eligible for compensation participate in the deal." Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Class Actions, Legal Ethics

Plaintiffs' Attorneys Seek to Undermine Legal Precedent in Garlock Case

September 09, 2014 | Insights

Roussel & Clement law firm on Thursday filed a motion in the Garlock bankruptcy case to seal documents which U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn Jr. found to contain evidence of fraud on behalf of plaintiffs' attorneys in the underlying asbestos case. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Class Actions

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