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Asbestos Litigation

Asbestos Litigation

Stephen J. Carroll
Deborah Hensler
Jennifer Gross
Elizabeth M. Sloss
Matthias Schonlau
Allan Abrahamse
J. Scott Ashwood
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 206
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  • Book Info
    Asbestos Litigation
    Book Description:

    Asbestos litigation is the longest-running mass tort litigation in U.S. history. Through 2002, approximately 730,000 individuals have brought claims against some 8,400 business entities, and defendants and insurers have spent a total of $70 billion on litigation. Building on previous RAND briefings, the authors report on what happened to those who have claimed injury from asbestos, what happened to the defendants in those cases, and how lawyers and judges have managed the cases.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-4052-7
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Preface
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Figures
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. Tables
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  6. Summary
    (pp. xvii-xxxii)
  7. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxxiii-xxxiv)
  8. Acronyms
    (pp. xxxv-xxxvi)
  9. CHAPTER ONE Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    In 1973, asbestos manufacturers were found strictly liable to workers injured as a result of exposure to their products (Borel v. Fibreboard, Fifth Circuit, U.S. Court of Appeals, 1973). Following that decision, increasing numbers of product liability claims against asbestos manufacturers flowed into the courts. By the early 1980s, more than 20,000 claimants had initiated lawsuits alleging injuries from exposure to asbestos. The growing volume of this type of litigation began to attract the attention of public policymakers.

    Many of those involved in asbestos litigation devised procedures to streamline the litigation process and reduce the burdens and costs they faced....

  10. CHAPTER TWO Injuries from Asbestos Exposure
    (pp. 11-20)

    Asbestos litigation stems from widespread use of and exposure to asbestos, which is known to cause a variety of injuries. This chapter describes the nature of asbestos-related injuries and discusses why it has been difficult to estimate their occurrence. It concludes by summarizing the results of epidemiological studies that have estimated numbers of asbestos-related injuries through 2029.

    Asbestos is abundant and inexpensive to mine and process. Because asbestos is strong, durable, and has excellent fire-retardant capability, it was widely used in industrial and other work and residential settings through the early 1970s. Asbestos consumption in the United States peaked in...

  11. CHAPTER THREE Asbestos Litigation Dynamics
    (pp. 21-68)

    Asbestos litigation is the longest-running mass tort litigation in the United States. It arose out of the exposure of millions of workers to a useful but injurious product and out of product manufacturers’ failure to warn of the risks of exposure. Asbestos litigation over time has been shaped by changes in substantive and procedural law, the rise of a sophisticated and well-capitalized plaintiff bar, heightened media attention to litigation generally and toxic tort litigation in particular, and wider use of computer technology. In turn, asbestos litigation has made a significant contribution to the evolution of mass civil litigation, providing a...

  12. CHAPTER FOUR Claimants and Defendants
    (pp. 69-86)

    In this chapter, we estimate the total number of claimants and defendants involved in asbestos litigation between the mid-1970s, afterBorel v. Fibreboard, and 2002. We also describe trends in the types of injury claims and the industries represented by defendants named in the litigation. Although we cannot disclose the names of asbestos defendants, we can identify the proportion of defendants from various industries and the changes in that proportion over time.

    It is not easy to answer the most basic questions about asbestos litigation, such as how many claimants and defendants have been involved in the litigation. There is...

  13. CHAPTER FIVE Costs and Compensation
    (pp. 87-106)

    In this chapter, we estimate the total amount of money spent on asbestos personal injury claims by defendants and insurers. We then estimate how much of the money spent on asbestos litigation was consumed by transactions costs and how much ended up in claimants’ pockets. The components of those costs are illustrated in Figure 5.1.

    Total spendingrefers to the net amount defendants and insurers combined spent on asbestos litigation. This sum is the amount defendants spent after being reimbursed from insurers and the amount insurers spent after being reimbursed by reinsurers. Total spending is broken down into defense transaction costs...

  14. CHAPTER SIX Bankruptcies
    (pp. 107-124)

    The total costs of asbestos litigation up to the present and the prospect of future costs have led many firms to file for bankruptcy. We examined information from numerous sources to compile a list of firms (provided in Appendix D) that have filed for bankruptcy and that have incurred and/or were expected to incur substantial asbestos-related liabilities.

    In this chapter, we first describe our approach to identifying asbestos-related bankruptcies, then present information on trends in bankruptcy filings and describe the trusts that have been established by those firms that have emerged from bankruptcy. We review the available literature on the...

  15. CHAPTER SEVEN Implications for the Future
    (pp. 125-134)

    When the Rand Institute for Civil Justice conducted its first studies of asbestos litigation in the early 1980s the litigation was surging, the Manville Corporation had just petitioned for Chapter 11 reorganization, and lawyers and judges were struggling to adapt civil procedure rules to the new phenomena of “mass torts” (Kakalik et al., 1983; Kakalik et al., 1984; Hensler et al., 1985). By the early 1990s, many parties to the litigation, lawyers, and judges had established routine practices for dealing with the litigation. Although questions about litigation practices and case outcomes remained, the perception of an asbestos litigation crisis that...

  16. APPENDIX A Comparison of Projections of Asbestos-Related Diseases
    (pp. 135-140)
  17. APPENDIX B Estimated Cases of Mesothelioma in the United States, 1985–2009
    (pp. 141-146)
  18. APPENDIX C Constructing the Jury Verdict Database
    (pp. 147-150)
  19. APPENDIX D Major Asbestos Bankruptcies
    (pp. 151-156)
  20. Bibliography
    (pp. 157-170)