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 - April 4, 2014

April 04, 2014 | Insights

Courts are taking a closer look at attorney fees in merger and acquisition lawsuits that often result in disclosure-only settlements. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Lawsuit Lending, Securities Litigation Reform, Illinois, Tennessee

Wisconsin Governor Signs Asbestos Transparency Law

April 01, 2014 | Insights

Last week, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed AB 19 into law. The new law requires greater transparency from tort plaintiffs who may also pursue claims with asbestos personal injury settlement trusts. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Wisconsin

In the News Today - March 31, 2014

March 31, 2014 | Insights

A U.S. District Court judge has dismissed nearly 6,000 asbestos lawsuits, finding that Ohio - not Pennsylvania - has jurisdiction in the case. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, False Claims Act, Pennsylvania

In the News Today - March 28, 2014

March 28, 2014 | Insights

On Thursday, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed a bill that would require greater disclosure from plaintiffs in asbestos lawsuits. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Trial Bar Influence, Wisconsin

In the News Today - March 27, 2014

March 27, 2014 | Insights

A judge is scheduled to hear arguments from a number of companies - including Ford and Aetna - to unseal evidence in a case that found lawyers were withholding and manipulating evidence in order to boost asbestos payouts. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Medical Liability, Securities Litigation Reform, California

In the News Today - March 19, 2014

March 19, 2014 | Insights

Nobody wins when state officials deputize trial lawyers. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, State Attorneys General, Illinois

Ford Wants Access to Garlock Documents

March 18, 2014 | Insights

Back in January, a judge issued a major decision in the Garlock bankruptcy case that found plaintiffs submitted misleading facts to win larger asbestos injury awards. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos

In the News Today - March 11, 2014

March 11, 2014 | Insights

The Wisconsin state Senate is scheduled to vote on a bill that would require plaintiffs to disclose additional information regarding their asbestos litigation. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, State Attorneys General, Louisiana, Wisconsin

In the News Today - March 10, 2014

March 10, 2014 | Insights

South Carolina was ranked 39th in ILR's 2012 survey of the 50 states' legal system, but an op-ed in The State says that lawsuit reforms to address the hiring of outside counsel and landowner liability "can restore faith and integrity in the state's civil justice system - at no expense to the taxpayer." Read More »

Tags: Asbestos, Lawsuit Abuse Impact, Illinois, New York, South Carolina

Asbestos Ruling Will Help Legitimate Victims

March 04, 2014 | Insights

Last month, a federal judge delivered an important ruling in a North Carolina bankruptcy court, finding that plaintiffs' lawyers were manipulating and withholding evidence in asbestos cases. Read More »

Tags: Asbestos

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