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

ILR Research Review - Fall 2017

November 30, 2017 | This special double-issue of the ILR Research Review features a wealth of insight and analysis on the world's rapidly changing litigation environment. The research contained in this issue targets exploitative litigation at home and abroad, examining numerous developments ranging from hyper-aggressive trial lawyer advertising in the U.S. to the imminent expansion of class actions in Europe.

101 Ways to Improve State Legal Systems: A User's Guide to Promoting Fair and Effective Civil Justice - FIFTH EDITION 2017

September 12, 2017 | A user's guide to state legal reforms, providing policymakers with a compendium of options available to foster a sound legal system and promote state economies. This resource also offers a compilation of recently-enacted legal reforms to show how legislators can move the proposals described in the guide from theory into practice.

Additional Resources

All Results for Asbestos

ILR Research Review - Fall 2017

November 30, 2017 | Research

This special double-issue of the ILR Research Review features a wealth of insight and analysis on the world's rapidly changing litigation environment. The research contained in this issue targets exploitative litigation at home and abroad, examining numerous developments ranging from hyper-aggressive trial lawyer advertising in the U.S. to the imminent expansion of class actions in Europe. Read More »

In the News Today - November 17, 2017

November 17, 2017 | News and Blog

U.S. Foreign Bribery Cases Fast-Tracked Due to Statute of Limitations Rule - SEC Enforcement Chief; Trump Considers Naming Mulvaney Interim CFPB Director Read More »

Johnson & Johnson Wins California Lawsuit Claiming Asbestos in Talc Caused Cancer

November 17, 2017 | News and Blog

A California jury on Thursday ruled in favor of Johnson & Johnson in a lawsuit by a woman who said she developed the cancer mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos in the company's talc-based products including J&J's Baby Powder. Read More »

Asbestos Plaintiffs' Firm Seeks Lawmaker Backup in Landmark Maryland Case

November 14, 2017 | News and Blog

Asbestos litigation magnate and Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos wants Maryland lawmakers to step in to negate the impact of a 2016 appeals court decision which threatens to clear as many as 25,000 asbestos cases from the docket. Read More »

In the News Today - November 9, 2017

November 09, 2017 | News and Blog

Senate Urged To Pass Legal Reform Bills; Federal Judicial Panel to Consider Litigation Financing. Read More »

Senate Committee Scrutinizes Widespread Abuses of Civil Justice System

Author: Lisa A. Rickard, President, U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform | November 08, 2017 | News and Blog

Today, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee holds a hearing to examine the impact of lawsuit abuse on America's small businesses and job creators. Read More »

"Abuses in the Tort System" to Blame for Bankruptcy, Says Atlanta Company

November 07, 2017 | News and Blog

A unit of Georgia-Pacific said "abuses in the tort system" are to blame for its bankruptcy last week, reports National Law Journal. Read More »

In the News Today - October 3, 2017

November 03, 2017 | News and Blog

Biz Groups Push FTC To Avoid 'Theoretical' Privacy Harms; California small businesses are vulnerable to mass-produced litigation Read More »

In the News Today - October 18, 2017

October 18, 2017 | News and Blog

Md. Asbestos Attys Clash Over Backlog At State Senate; Johnson & Johnson wins reversal of $72 million verdict over talc cancer risks Read More »

101 Ways to Improve State Legal Systems: A User's Guide to Promoting Fair and Effective Civil Justice - FIFTH EDITION 2017

September 12, 2017 | Research

A user's guide to state legal reforms, providing policymakers with a compendium of options available to foster a sound legal system and promote state economies. This resource also offers a compilation of recently-enacted legal reforms to show how legislators can move the proposals described in the guide from theory into practice. Read More »

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