Chamber Releases Study on Impact of Asbestos Lawsuits

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January 22, 2003

WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 23, 2003 - The United States Chamber of Commerce today released new research that shows how asbestos lawsuits not only adversely affect the companies being sued but also cause secondary harm to other businesses, governments, communities and individuals.

"Over 60 companies have filed for bankruptcy because of asbestos claims, putting 60,000 employees out of work," said Thomas J. Donohue, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber. "If that weren't bad enough, these closings have caused a devastating trickle-down impact on towns and businesses all across America, where economic well-being depended on those now-bankrupt companies. This is one more reason why Congress must act quickly to fix this problem."

"The Secondary Impacts of Asbestos Liabilities," a new study conducted for the Chamber by NERA Economic Consulting, was unveiled at a special briefing hosted by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform and the Center for Legal Policy at The Manhattan Institute.

The NERA study reveals that nationwide, there will be as much as $2 billion in additional costs due to indirect and induced impacts of company closings. Plant closures or mass layoffs will cause local real estate values to fall, per capita income to decline, and federal, state and local tax receipts to dwindle. The study also notes the increased costs due to worker retraining - up to $3,000 per worker - and the additional burdens on families to continue health care coverage.

The special briefing featured presentations from some of the nation's foremost researchers and independent analysts on the asbestos crisis, including Dr. Deborah Hensler and Dr. Stephen Carroll of the RAND Institute for Civil Justice, Dr. Jonathan Orszag of Sebago Associates, and Dr. Jesse David of the National Economic Research Associates, Georgetown Law School professor Paul Rothstein and retired Cook County Circuit Court Judge Dean Trafelet.

"Without question, solving the asbestos litigation mess has to be one of the top priorities for the 108th Congress," Donohue said. "We believe today's briefing will provide policymakers with sound data that highlights the need to protect our nation's communities and stimulate legislative reforms that, first and foremost, provide the truly sick with fair compensation."