NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Asbestos Claims Take Toll on Jobs and The Economy

January 6, 2003

Lawsuits alleging damages from exposure to asbestos must be brought under control before they do further damage to innocent corporations and throw more American workers out of jobs. That is the rallying cry of a growing number of critics, economists and tort reformers.

  • Ninety thousand new asbestos claims were filed last year -- triple the number filed two years ago.
  • Behind the recent explosion in cases are tens of thousands of claimants who show no ill effects to alleged exposure to asbestos, but who are being rounded up by tort lawyers panicked by the prospect of a dwindling number of clients who are genuinely ill.
  • Critics say that bogus claimants have been given scripts with blatant falsehoods to memorize and repeat in sworn testimony.
  • Even though most asbestos cases today are being brought by healthy persons, lawyers effective rates can run $5,000 to $25,000 an hour when settlements are in huge batches.

Critics want Congress to limit fraudulent claiming before more companies are destroyed, their investors defrauded and workers put out on the streets.

Source: Lester Brickman (Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law), "The Great Asbestos Swindle," Wall Street Journal, January 6, 2003.

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