AAA Mass Torts

  1. Key Features of Asbestos Litigation
    1. Multiple defendant cases typical: exposure to multiple asbestos products during their careers -> name a large # of defendants in lawsuits.
    2. Forum Shopping: large # of claims filed in pro-plaintiff jurisdictions
    3. Plaintiff groups: plaintiffs with dif injuries come together to file claims
    4. Peripheral Defendants: major defendants bankrupt and claims shifted to peripheral (asbestos were encapsulated) - jointly and several
  2. Why is the litigation system inefficient - Asbestos
    • Large portion of the cost goes to lawyer rather than to injured
    • Grouping plaintiffs with dif injuries -> greater overall settlement and overcompensating less severe
  3. Asbestos - Why Defense costs could increase in the future
    1. More defendants in the litigation, and defense no longer on joint basis
    2. Many defendants abandoned settlement strategies
    3. Newer defendants incur sig discovery costs to understand their exposure and defenses
  4. Asbestos - Reasons for the increased filing rate during 2000-2003
    1. Greater medical awareness
    2. Greater propensity to sue from efforts of attoneys
    3. Claimants' expedited action as unsure of future
  5. Seriously injured claimants - Concerns
    • Wants quick resolution due to short life expectancy, but difficult in current legal environment
    • High system costs diminish funds avail
    • Manufaturers go bankrupt and unable to compensate those who will dev serious illness
  6. Nonseriously injured and unimpaired claimants - Concerns
    If they don't proceed with lawsuit today,
    • statute of limitation may bar recovery of damages for serious conditions dev'd in the future. Addressed thru inactive docket
    • money not avail to compensate if dev serious injury later.
  7. Plaintiffs' Attorneys - Concerns
    Those who represent seriously injured support legislative changes to litigation system
  8. Judges - Concerns
    • Trial docket pressures force trial to speed up and potentially produce less equitable results.
    • Inequities when claims of dif injuries consolidated, or time allowed to conduct discovery shortened
  9. Major defendants - Concerns
    • Cannot get a fair trial
    • Consolidation of claims of dif injuries may result in excessive awards to nonseriously injured
    • Paying what should be funded by other parties, e.g. synergistic effect btw exposure to asbestos and smoking
    • Wants finality by putting this behind them.
  10. Peripheral asbestos defendants - Concerns
    whose products encapsulated asbestos products
    • Should not be liable
    • Taking on a share from now bankrupt manufacturers (joint-and-several)
    • Unfair to be held accountable for same knowledge of risks as major defendants
    • Wants by putting this behind them.
  11. Insurers and Reinsurers - Concerns
    • Settlements with claimants with no identifiable injury
    • Wants finality and put this behind them
  12. Employees/retirees of firms with asbestos liabilities - Concerns
    Bankruptcies led to job loss
  13. Fed reform - trust fund, concerns
    no-fault trust to compensate those meeting criteria (exposure and med). Concerns:
    • Is fund be sufficient?
    • Are awards appropriate?
    • Would the medical criteria id injured parties?
    • Is allocation of funding from various contributors adequate (insurers, defendant and existing bankruptcy trust)?
  14. Potential reforms to mitigate cost of litigation system for asbestos
    • Restrict Forum Shopping
    • Restrict class actions (crazy lawyer fees)
    • Amend collateral rule
    • Bar joint and several liability for non-eco loss
    • Medical exam for claim
    • No fault trust - to allocate funds to those meeting criteria
    • Inactive dockets: allow currently unimpaired plaintiff right to sue without statute of limitations -> reduce the # of unimpaired claimants: only sue when it gets serious
Card Set
AAA Mass Torts
AAA Mass Torts