ASBESTOS NEWS DAILY - Asbestos Litigation
Asbestos Legal: Asbestos Litigation
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Asbestos Litigation diagnosed with Mesothelioma and other Asbestos related diseases have legal options and may seek compensation through Mesothelioma litigation.
Filing a claim against the companies that are responsible for your asbestos exposure will help you gain compensation for medical costs and pain and suffering associated with asbestos-related illnesses. A Mesothelioma lawyer can help you pursue compensation for the following things:
- Lost income
- Medical bills
- Group support for yourself and loved ones
- End-of-life expenses
We help patients and their families make educated, informed decisions about how to proceed with filing Mesothelioma, Asbestosis and other asbestos-related cancer claims.
We will walk you through the entire process of connecting with an experienced Asbestos Litigation Mesothelioma Lawyer and also help you find a qualified Mesothelioma doctor.
Asbestos Litigation – Asbestos Company – Asbestos Claims
Pennsylvania company is 89th to collapse under asbestos claims
4/23/2010 10:39 AM By Steve Korris
PHILADELPHIA - Durabla Manufacturing, aPennsylvania company that made sealing products, collapsed under the weight of 108,000 asbestos suits.
U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno ofPhiladelphia, responsible forasbestos claims nationwide, received notice on April 12 of Durabla's bankruptcy.
Asbestos litigation has bankrupted 89 companies in 28 years, according to the Crowell Moring firm inWashington. Among the earliest was Johns-Manville in 1982; and among the latest was General Motors last year.
Durabla received its first asbestos claim in 1980, Mark Eckard ofWilmington wrote for owner David Moser on Jan. 7.
Primary coverage of $8.5 million lasted until 2002, Eckard wrote, paying 16,017 claims at an average of $531.
Durabla had closed about 62,000 cases without payment by then, he wrote, but about 79,000 cases remained open between 2002 and 2009.
Durabla showed a profit in 2002, he wrote, and retained earnings of $1,113,555.
It showed a profit three of the next four years, he wrote, but sales didn't cover overhead and Durabla ceased operation in 2007.
It has spent cash and marketed securities to wind up its affairs, defend litigation and protect insurance coverage, he wrote.
As of last June 30, he wrote, it had $318,847 in cash and $1.5 million in coverage.
Eckard represents Moser, who is being sued personally over asbestos claims.
Moser started an adversary proceeding in bankruptcy court, seeking a declaration that he wouldn't have to defend asbestos suits individually.
Eckard wrote that as Durabla exhausted coverage in 2008, claimants started suing Moser and two companies as alter egos.
Durabla lawyer Chad Toms of Wilmington did not submit a list of creditors to bankruptcy court, instead identifying 20 firms with the most plaintiffs.
Weitz and Luxenberg, ofNew York City, leads the group with 33,649 plaintiffs.
Jaques Admiralty Law Firm of Detroit nearly matches that, with 33,111.
Peter Angelos and Peter Nicholl ofBaltimore represent about 8,000 and 7,000.
Morris, Sakalarios and Blackwell of Hattiesburg, Miss., represents about 5,000.
About 4,000 suits come from otherMississippi firms: Conway and Martin ofGulfport; Byrd and Associates of Jackson; Foster Law Group of Ocean Springs; and Porter and Malouf of Ridgeland.
Brent Coon and Associates of Dallas represents about 3,000, and so does Wilentz, Goldman and Spitzer of New York City.
Motley Rice of Mount Pleasant, S.C., did not make the list, but it entered an appearance in bankruptcy court 15 days after Durabla filed its petition.
According to Crowell Moring in Washington, the following is a list of asbestos bankruptcies:
1982: UNR Industries, Johns-Manville, Amatex, Unarco
1983: Waterman Steamship
1984: Wallace & Gale
1985: Forty-Eight Insulations
1986: Philadelphia Asbestos, Standard Insulations, Prudential Lines, McLean Industries, United States Lines
1987: Gatke Corp., Todd Shipyards, Nicolet Inc.
1989: Raymark/Raytech, Delaware Insulations, Hillsborough Holding Co.
1990: Celotex, Carey Canada, National Gypsum
1991: Eagle-Picher Industries, H.K. Porter Co.
1992: Kentile Floors
1993: American Shipbuilding, Keene Corp.
1995: Lykes Bros. Steamship
1996: Rock Wool Manufacturing
1998: M. H. Detrick, Fuller-Austin, Brunswick Fabricators
1999: Harnischfeger Corp., Rutland Fire Clay
2000: Babcock & Wilcox, Pittsburgh Corning, Owens
Corning/Fibreboard, Armstrong World Industries
2001: Burns & Roe, G-I Holdings, Skinner Engine, W.R. Grace, USG Corp., E.J. Bartells, United States Mineral Products, Federal Mogul, Murphy Marine Services, Insul, Swan Transportation
2002: North American Refractories, Kaiser Aluminum, GIT/Harbison-Walker/AP Green Industries, Plibrico, Shook & Fletcher, Porter-Hayden, Artra Group, Special Metals, Asbestos Claims Management Corp., AC and S, JT Thorpe Co. (Texas), A-Best Products, Western MacArthur/Western Asbestos
2003: C.E. Thurston, Combustion Engineering, Congoleum, Mid-Valley (Halliburton subsidiaries), Muralo Co.
2004: Flintkote/Flintkote Mines, Oglebay Norton, Special Electric, Quigley Co., Utex Industries, JT Thorpe Inc. (California.)
2005: API Inc., Lake Asbestos of Quebec Ltd., Asarco, Brauer Supply
2006: Dana Corporation, ABB Lummus Global, Lloyd E. Mitchell Co.
2007: Thorpe Insulation, Pacific Insulation
2008: Hercules Chemical, Christy Refractories, T H Agriculture & Nutrition
2009: Plant Insulation Co., General Motors (However, GM disavows intent to proceed as asbestos bankruptcy, but trustee appointed asbestos claimants committee and GM moved to appoint a future claims representative).
2010: Durabla Manufacturing
Asbestos Litigation – Asbestos Trades –Mesothelioma Lawsuit
U.S. law firms eye global expansion of asbestos litigation
3/26/2009 2:51 PM By Staff Reports
The 900-lb. gorilla of American civil law is expanding globally to an even greater degree than it already has, according to aChicago defense attorney who writes a blog on global asbestos issues.
Asbestos litigation, which the U.S. Supreme Court once described as "an elephantine mass" that "defies customary judicial administration," continues into another decade with no signs of slowing. Asbestos dockets across the country are again on the rise.
But according to defense attorney Kirk Hartley, who presented on the topic at aBeverly Hills conference among leading asbestos lawyers, judges and other professionals in early March, the push for increased litigation has already expanded abroad. For any number of reasons asbestos litigation will expand globally in the years to come, especially in countries that have failed to curtail the use of asbestos as theUnited States did back in the 1970s.
"Asbestos fiber use outside theU.S. far exceeded use inNorth America and continued for many years at high numbers," Hartley said.
While asbestos use in theUnited States had nearly run its course by the 1970s, it continues in other parts of the globe, particularly in the heavily populated countries ofRussia,China andIndia, among the leading consumers and producers of asbestos in this decade.
Other factors for this global expansion include increasing global advocacy by plaintiff's firms, class actions growing "in favor around the world," entrepreneurial investment and increased publicity through the Internet, according to Hartley.
Ironically, Hartley said, that as European nations begin to feel the pressure ofasbestos litigation -- including the rise of potential class action lawsuits -- the courts are seeking ways to avoid "the American result," he said.
Most attorneys in places likeMadisonCounty have no shortage of cases to file locally, be they in-state plaintiffs or ones from across the country.
For these attorneys, it is far easier to walk across the street from a law office to the Madison courthouse -- with long-established protocol -- than it is to learn the customs, language and law of another country. Nevertheless, as the rise of asbestos globally grows, American firms will play a role.
Asbestos in theUK
Claims ofmesothelioma, the deadliest ofasbestos-caused diseases, have risen dramatically in theUnited Kingdom in recent years. A 2008 update of the UK Actuaries found that insurance claims are occurring in far greater number.
"In the 2004 paper, it was estimated that around one-third ofmesothelioma sufferers were making insurance claims," the UK Actuaries wrote. "The asbestos working party has obtained claimant level data that gives a more reliable estimate of this proportion, and has shown that this proportion has risen from 36 percent in 2003 to 56 percent in 2007."
Further, political negotiations could soon result in Prime Minister Gordon Brown overruling a 2007 decision by the House of Lords to disallow compensation for pleural plaques -- a disease that leads to the thickening of tissue around the lungs -- because there is no proof the condition leads to other deadly diseases likemesothelioma.
Hartley has been following this on his blog as the decision could open the door to a high number of new cases among those with far less injury than people dying ofmesothelioma.
"TheUK government had said it would provide its position during November 2008, but did not do so," he wrote. "On Feb. 11, however, Gordon Brown publicly said the government will 'soon' announce its view."
A British columnist wrote that Brown is likely to cave intoLabour party demands on this issue and overturn the House of Lords.
"Labour MPs representing industrial areas were flooded with protests and for many it has been one of their biggest postbag issues," Toby Helm wrote in the UK Guardian. "Sufferers - there are many thousands - said that, while the proportionwho went on to develop deadly illnesses was small, just being diagnosed with them was enough to cause huge anxiety and often depression."
Helm believes Brown will use the issue as a bargaining tool, and allowpayements "somewhere in the region of (7,000 pounds) each."
To date, the announcement has not been made, but even if payments are allowed, it would leave open the possibility of further payments should "a second disease subsequently emerge," Hartley said.
Scotland held hearings and passed legislation allowing for plaques to be compensated, though it is waiting to see if Brown will help cover the cost.
As Hartley noted,England is just one of many countries worldwide - including those as diverse asSouth Korea,South Africa,Spain,Brazil andSwitzerland - to be dealing with the issue of asbestos litigation.
Global entrepreneurial interestsrising
The proliferation of asbestos-related disease has sparked increased interest in cross-cultural legal partnership and even outside investment in law firms from financial institutions.
As entrepreneurial efforts related to legal action grows in many areas, the billions in asbestos will find no shortage of backers to expand litigation efforts. Across the globe "litigation funders" are found in places like theNetherlands andAustralia.
"Hedge funds have invested in litigation as an industry and have made capital available to fund legal ventures," Hartley said.
Hartley likens this international trend to state attorneys general hiring private lawyers to pursue large lawsuits, as was common in tobacco litigation. Hartley offered one example of the Nigerian government suing cigarette companies, withU.S. plaintiff's firms involved as co-counsel.
This type of global partnership faces a steep learning curve. American law firms have to deal with the language barrier, though Hartley admits modern tools like translation engines could potentially minimize this barrier. Differences in laws between countries remain a significant obstacle.
"ManyU.S. lawyers today are relatively un-informed regarding civil law, but that is changing as firms branch out and evaluate joint ventures," he said.
Asbestos Litigation – Asbestos Legal –Asbestos Mesothelioma Lawsuit
'Take home' liability could mean limitless liability for asbestos defendants
3/20/2009 12:28 PM By Staff Reports
During a recent gathering of asbestos legal professionals, aBeverly Hills conference focused on one central theme in emerging litigation trends: a new generation of problems -- connected to the last -- will mean a new wave of cases against a new slate of defendants.
With more than three decades past since the peak of asbestos manufacturing and use in theU.S., the focus of lawsuits has shifted to what is often called" asbestos litigation cases." These cases are filed on behalf of a new slate of plaintiffs, many a generation removed from those that comprised the height ofasbestos litigation in the late 1990s when hundreds of thousands of cases were filed each year.
Likewise, the defendants include new businesses, most at least a step removed from the manufacturers, shipyards and refineries already forced into bankruptcy under the weight of billions paid in legal settlements.
With many of the first wave of plaintiffs deceased, and the businesses they sued bankrupt, it is no surprise the vast industry of asbestos lawyers would now be uncovering new cases along previously un-trod trails.
One such trail emerging as a potential highway of asbestos cases is take home liability cases. Commonly, these plaintiffs include everyone from children and spouses of those who worked around asbestos, babysitters who entered the employee's home, or independent contractors who worked with products containing asbestos.
Texas plaintiff attorney Shepard Hoffman described one form of take home liability extending "to those who regularly and repeatedly came in to contact with employees' work clothing consistently over a period of time."
New York attorney JohnCanoni said defendants in these cases have taken notice, raising in court their serious concern over the "specter of limitless liability."
New cases, new plaintiffs
The legal war over how courts will interpret the limits and legal responsibility in take home liability cases is now pitched in state-by-state battles. Some states, likeWashington,Tennessee,New Jersey andLouisiana have ruled that companies have a duty to protect and warn those who may become exposed to asbestos beyond their own employees, according toChicago defense attorney Jonathon Lively.
Others, notably,New York,Georgia,Kentucky,Texas,Michigan andDelaware have ruled against such duty. Many states, includingIllinois - and in whichMadisonCounty continues to be one of the larger asbestos dockets in the country -- are still hearing the cases that will determine the eventual legal precedence.
The cases that are setting the stage offer a glimpse into the next generation of clients.
"The housewife is the number one occupation listed for those now contractingmesothelioma,"West Virginia plaintiff attorney AnneKearse said.
ATennessee case involved a woman who died at the age of 24 after being exposed to asbestos from her father's work clothes. The woman was born premature and spent three months in the hospital where her father would come and hold her every day on his way home from work,Lively said.
Another case involves a plaintiff who was exposed to asbestos as a child from wrestling around with his father after work.
Canoni cited one of the most recent cases, a ruling from the Delaware Supreme Court earlier this month. Lillian Riedel sued ICI Americas, Inc., her husband's employer for nearly 30 years, for failing to warn her of the dangers of asbestos exposure from her husband's clothing.
"Does the employer owe a duty of care to the injured party who they may or may not have ever known, nor ever employed?"Canoni said.
According to court documents, the court ruled against Riedel, grantingICI's request for summary judgment "on the basis that ICI and Mrs. Riedel did not share a legally significant relationship that would create a duty ICI owed to her."
But that legal victory of the defense inDelaware is offset by plaintiff victories along similar lines in other states, notablyWashington.
Lawyers G. William Shaw and Michael K. Ryan wrote, "In a pair of closely watched asbestos cases, theWashington Court of Appeals on January 29, 2007 greatly expanded the duty to warn in asbestos cases."
The twin rulings in favor of plaintiffs found that a product manufacturer whose products do not include any asbestos is still responsible for exposure if the normal use of the product would cause them to become exposed from another source.
The court ruling "may have a direct impact on defendant manufacturers whose products may have required the use of asbestos-containing products to function properly," they wrote, which in turn, greatly expands the company's duty to warn about the exposure to asbestos. The ruling also greatly increases the pool of defendants that can be named inWashington asbestos cases.
Potential liability in states where duty to warn is expanded could soon extend to babysitters, school teachers and neighbors who could have been exposed by someone who worked around asbestos, according to asbestos conference presenters. The number of businesses who could be sued in asbestos cases is also greatly expanded, even to the point of including "mom and pop stores," one presenter at the conference said.
The cases with extended duty to warn are cropping up in asbestos dockets across the country. A brief review of cases filed recently inMadisonCounty, shows the subtle shift to the next generation of plaintiffs.
For example, among the 13 cases filed inMadisonCounty in a single week in February, few are direct lawsuits on behalf of a sick worker suing a former employer. One such example involves a lawsuit filed by Christine Warner ofTennessee on behalf of her mother who developedmesothelioma during her work as a seamstress at House of Fashions inMemphis for more than 30 years.
But most are less specific as to when and where the person was exposed to asbestos, likely built on duty to warn case law.
Pat Montgomery ofKentucky claims he developedmesothelioma after helping his father on the family farm for six years during the 1950s. AnIllinois woman claimed in her suit filed inMadisonCounty that she developedmesothelioma after being exposed through her husband.
Defending the case
The most important steps in defending against take home liability often occur early on in how the case is framed by the courts, according to Lively. The duty to warn is often determined by whether the court sees the case as one of misfeasance, poor action to warn, or nonfeasance, no action to warn.
"How a case gets framed in front of the court is going to greatly determine how it is going to end up," Lively said during the asbestos conference.
TheDelaware ruling involving Lillian Riedel, Lively said, was an example of the court assessing the failure to warn as nonfeasance, essentially ruling they had no duty to warn her of the potential exposure from her husband's work clothes.
Other cases where courts have ruled the company had a duty to warn and acted poorly to do so have led to plaintiff victories, the case of the 24-year-old woman fromTennessee for example,Lively said.
The outcomes of these cases differ greatly from state to state.
Hoffman said that despite the changing nature of the cases, juries still focus on the plaintiff and the harm done to them.
"Juries want to find a way to help out a family," he said, arguing that plaintiff attorneys must simply show the "contributing factors to a person contractingmesothelioma," and "the basis to hold the initiating company responsible."
Companies knew the dangers of asbestos, even on clothing leaving the plant for decades, Hoffman said, citing examples of safety measures that were commonplace.
"A study in 1913 discusses worker safety, of the need for lockers and showers and a change of clothes for workers before going home," Hoffman said.
While defense attorneys often point to 1972, when OSHA issued protocols to be followed regarding asbestos exposure,Kearse said that premise can be challenged in court.
"There's a lot of information out before OSHA,"Kearse said, starting with a report in 1937 that talks about safety policies related to asbestos.
"It was known and knowable how dangerous this was to work with," she said. "West Virginia had regulations in place since 1951, but it was rarely followed, if at all."
Asbestos Litigation – Asbestos Legal – Mesothelioma Lawsuit
Meso patient dies whileTexas court debates inconvenient forum
December 12th, 2008 by Wendi Lewis
While the Texas Supreme Court reviewed an appeal by seven asbestos manufacturers in order to determine an appropriate forum for trial, plaintiff Austin Richards died ofmesothelioma. According to the report published by BusinessInsurance.com, the defendants – businesses based inTexas – said trying the case in their home state violatedTexas civil code, because Richards lived inMaine. They argued trying the case inTexas would be an “inconvenient forum” for them, as it would be difficult for them to travel toMaine to depose witnesses.
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of theTexas companies by unanimous vote, overturning a lower court ruling that would have allowed the trial to take place in the state. Richards brought suit against 21 defendants after beingdiagnosed withmesothelioma in 2005. All defendants manufactured or sold asbestos materials, according to the news report. Three of the defendants are based inTexas.
Richards worked as a mason, and regularly handled pipe insulation made with asbestos as part of his job.
The case was initially brought before aTexas state court inDallas. At that point, seven of the defendants asked that the trial be moved toMaine, citing theTexas code of “inconvenient forum.” Richards and his attorneys objected to the move, as they feared it would result in the case ultimately being assigned to the U.S. District Court inPhiladelphia as part of a multidistrictasbestos litigation. Mr. Richards feared he would not live long enough to see a trial in that case.
Unfortunately, Mr. Richards passed away before the case made it to oral deliberations before the Texas Supreme Court in September.
The three defendants that appealed theTexas state court decision to try the case inTexas were GE, Ingersoll and Warren Pumps. The Supreme Court decision can be found inIn Re General Electric Co. et al. The case will be moved toMaine.
Asbestos Litigation– Asbestos Company – Asbestos Lawsuit
Asbestos Suits Become More Widespread
Sep 26, 2002 | TheLos Angeles Times
Asbestos litigation has ensnared more than 6,000 companies--triple previous estimates--and is affecting nearly every industry, a Rand Institute study said Wednesday.
U.S. companies have paid out $54 billion on more than 600,000asbestos injury claims filed since the early 1970s, the Rand Institute for Civil Justice reported. Asbestos claims ultimately could cost as much as $210 billion, according to projections cited in the study, and more than 60 companies--22 of them in the last two years--have sought bankruptcy protection to staunch their losses.
The rising cost of the lawsuits has brought calls for reforms, and on Wednesday corporate defenders, insurers and lawyers for asbestos-related cancer victims seized on theRand report as evidence of the need for change in a hearing on asbestos litigation before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
The hearing coincided with this week's opening of a massiveclass-action suit inWest Virginia involving more than 5,000 plaintiffs and dozens of corporations including Exxon Mobil Corp., Owens-Illinois Inc., Westinghouse Electric Corp. and Union Carbide, now part of Dow Chemical Co.
In a measure of the breadth of the litigation, Rand found asbestos suits had been filed against companies in 75 of 83 industry sectors tracked by the government, said Stephen Carroll, the Rand senior economist who headed the study.
"The bankruptcies are the tip of the iceberg," Carroll said. "Under the surface there are a lot of corporations that are being hit hard by asbestos liabilities and they are putting their money into compensation payments instead of investment."
TheRand study also renewed questions about whether the growing pile of lawsuits is benefiting the victims of asbestos. Despite the enormous economic costs, the authors conclude that asbestos litigation is failing to adequately compensate the most seriously ill victims and no longer poses a deterrent to the pursuit of profits at the expense of worker health.
After the costs of litigation, asbestos claimants now receive 43 cents of every dollar spent on asbestos compensation, a slight improvement over the 37 cents thatRand researchers said reached plaintiffs' pockets 20 years ago. At the same time, the most seriously ill victims--people with lung cancer and mesothelioma, an incurable asbestos-related cancer--get little more than a third of all payouts, the study said.
The study echoes others' concerns that a surge in claims in the last four years from people who may have been exposed to asbestos but are not sick is draining money away from cancer victims who have high medical expenses and are no longer able to earn a living.
"The system looks worse 20 years later," said Deborah Hensler, aStanfordUniversity law professor who contributed toRand's first asbestos litigation study in 1982 and to its latest. "The system [in 1982], however inefficiently, was performing its job of corrective justice. It was making the bad guys pay. And by making the bad guys pay, the system was sending a very strong message to other potential bad guys working with other products that 'If you engage in this kind of behavior, you might find yourself in bankruptcy.' "
Today, Hensler said, high legal costs and payouts to claimants without serious injuries are diverting money away from cancer victims, and corporateAmerica no longer believes that only the most culpable companies pay.
Because litigation has spread to hundreds of companies outside the asbestos mining and manufacturing business, Hensler said, executives of recently targeted companies are saying, " 'This is not fair. We are being asked to pay for something that other blame-worthy companies did.' "
Fred Baron, a pioneering asbestos lawyer fromTexas and a recent president of the Assn. of Trial Lawyers of America, disputed the idea that "uninvolved companies" are being unfairly swept into the fray.
"While these companies did not manufacture asbestos, they used, distributed or otherwise sold products to others knowing that their asbestos content was likely to injure downstream users," Baron said. "Other defendants purchased companies, often at a discount, knowing these companies had substantial asbestos liability."
Baron's comments came during the Judiciary Committee hearing.
But Steve Kazan, anOakland lawyer who represents only cancer victims, told the committee that unless Congress steps in, there will be no money left to compensate people who fall victim to asbestos cancers over the next 50 years.
An estimated 27 million workers were heavily exposed to asbestos between 1940 and 1973. But, because mesothelioma can take 40 years or more to appear, at least 2,500 new cases are diagnosed each year, and the disease is widely expected to claim hundreds of thousands of lives in 30 to 50 years.
To preserve funds for future mesothelioma victims,Kazan has taken the unusual position of joining corporations and insurers in proposing that Congress establish medical thresholds that would bar claims from people who are not functionally impaired. Other asbestos reform efforts have failed over the years, and, despite more than a year of lobbying, the latest idea has not found its way into a bill.
Baron, testifying on behalf of the trial lawyers association, urged the congressional committee to continue its restraint, saying the proposed reforms would harm the rights of most asbestos victims.
"Although they will argue that the only way to pay more to the sickest is by paying less to others, the defendants' real goal is to pay less total asbestos compensation," Baron said. "The concept that a victim must be impaired before their claim can be heard is an invention of the asbestos defendants designed to limit their liability."
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.), who chairs the committee, said he was interested in coming up with a bill that would respond to the neediest victims, but he said the committee was unlikely to take it up before Congress adjourns for the year.
TheLos Angeles Times