NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Are Plaintiffs' Lawyers Making Fraudulent Asbestos Claims?

December 14, 2001

People showing no signs of asbestos-related injuries are filing claims and walking away with money from the Manville Trust -- set up by the John Mansville Corp. in 1982 to administer compensation claims of those suffering from asbestos-related medical impairments. Those familiar with the claim process charge that plaintiffs' attorneys are milking the trust -- to the disadvantage of those who are truly sick, often with cancer, by reducing payments to them.

  • Critics say chest x-rays -- required to be consistent with asbestos exposure -- are often questionable and that the trust created a payment system that made it too easy for perhaps hundreds of thousands of people to claim injuries and receive money.
  • Since the trust was launched in 1988, it has paid out $2.7 billion in claims and has about $2 billion in remaining assets.
  • The trust's general counsel says the organization received over 58,000 claims last year -- twice as many as in the year-earlier period -- which jumped again this year to 70,000 claims in the first 11 months of this year.
  • To deal with the rise in claims, the trust lowered payments to five cents on the dollar from 10 cents in July.

According to a letter federal Judge Jack B. Weinstein received from the trustees, "a disproportionate amount of Trust settlement dollars have gone to the least injured claimants -- many with no discernible asbestos-related physical impairment whatsoever."

Source: Queena Sook Kim, "Asbestos Trust Says Assets Are Reduced as the Medically Unimpaired File Claims," Wall Street Journal, December 14, 2001.

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