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Bankruptcy’s Effect on Product Identification in Asbestos Personal Injury Cases

Bankruptcy’s Effect on Product Identification in Asbestos Personal Injury Cases

Lloyd Dixon
Geoffrey McGovern
Copyright Date: 2015
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 74
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  • Book Info
    Bankruptcy’s Effect on Product Identification in Asbestos Personal Injury Cases
    Book Description:

    This report investigates whether bankruptcy reduces the likelihood that exposure to the asbestos-containing products of bankrupt parties will be identified in interrogatories and depositions. It also presents plaintiff and defense perspectives on whether the findings are a cause for concern and what, if anything, should be done in response.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-9139-0
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Preface
    (pp. iii-vi)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Figures and Tables
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. Summary
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  6. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  7. Abbreviations
    (pp. xix-xx)
  8. CHAPTER ONE Introduction and Background on Asbestos Bankruptcies
    (pp. 1-12)

    Exposure to asbestos, once widely used in industrial and consumer products, can result in asbestosis and mesothelioma, a cancer that is inevitably fatal.¹ As a consequence, companies that produced or used asbestos and asbestos-containing products faced enormous liability. Asbestos litigation began in earnest in the 1970s and continues to this day, the longest-running mass tort in U.S. history.² One of the most significant developments in asbestos litigation in the past 15 years involves the scores of asbestos defendants that have filed for bankruptcy because of the large volume of lawsuits and their expected liability. As a result of these bankruptcies,...

  9. CHAPTER TWO Data Used to Assess Bankruptcy’s Impact on Product Identification
    (pp. 13-24)

    The overall concept for the study design was to identify plaintiffs who were similar in terms of asbestos exposure and disease but who differed as to when disease manifested and a tort case filed. Because each case is filed at a different point in time, the firms that are bankrupt at the date of case filing varies across cases, as does the time since each firm’s bankruptcy. We used this variation to estimate bankruptcy’s effect on product identification. For each case, we reviewed interrogatories and depositions to determine the firms that produced the asbestos-containing products to which the plaintiff indicated...

  10. CHAPTER THREE Findings
    (pp. 25-36)

    This chapter reports findings on bankruptcy’s impact on product identification. In most cases, we report findings for the BNS and WCS cases separately, although, for some analyses, we combine the two sets of cases. The presentation begins with findings based on the information contained in plaintiffs’ responses to the interrogatories. It then considers the additional information provided in depositions of plaintiffs, plaintiffs’ families, and plaintiffs’ coworkers.

    Table 3.1 reports product-identification rates for the 43 firms that filed for bankruptcy between 1998 and 2010. The first row shows findings for those case–firm combinations in which the case was filed before...

  11. CHAPTER FOUR Discussion
    (pp. 37-40)

    The extent to which exposures to the asbestos-containing products of bankrupt firms are identified during a tort case has important implications for plaintiffs and remaining solvent defendants. The failure of plaintiffs and defendants to identify all such exposures can mean that a remaining solvent defendant will pay more than it would if all exposure were identified. Failure to identify exposure to the products of bankrupt parties might also result in greater plaintiff compensation than otherwise from bankruptcy trusts and the tort case combined. As discussed in Chapter One, plaintiffs thus have disincentives to identify exposure to bankrupt firms’ products, while...

  12. APPENDIX A. Firms Whose Product Identification We Analyzed
    (pp. 41-44)
  13. APPENDIX B. Alternative Approaches for Estimating Bankruptcy’s Effect on Product Identification
    (pp. 45-50)
  14. References
    (pp. 51-54)