The following phrases have been used recently to define the current state of asbestos litigation in the United States – a “pit,” an “endless saga,” a “runaway job-eating blob,” an “elephantine mass.” For those who practice in this litigation, the phrases ring true. The “crisis,” by which it has accurately become known, is multi-faceted. Dockets are clogged; the vast majority of claims are brought by unimpaired individuals who prematurely sue to avoid the bar of the statute of limitations; claims are brought against new “target” defendants that never manufactured asbestos-containing products; claims are forum-shopped to plaintiff-friendly jurisdictions where the claimants never lived or worked to maximize damage verdicts; and plaintiffs are consolidated with thousands of other claimants whose lawsuits are wholly unrelated in respect to occupation, method of exposure, or disease. These tactics create an unwieldy mass that often puts defendants in the untenable position of having to pay to buy their peace, even where there has been no discovery. Enough said. The system has run amuck.
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