Magazine article Risk Management

Asbestos Claims Rise

Magazine article Risk Management

Asbestos Claims Rise

Article excerpt

The frequency and cost of asbestosrelated claims has sky rocketed in recent years. In the report, "The Sky's the Limit: Recent Trends in Asbestos Claims," Christine Fleming of Worcester, Massachusetts-based Milliman Consulting writes that "companies are fleeing for bankruptcy protection, insurers face billions of dollars in estimated liabilities, federal legislation [is offering] no relief-while the number of plaintiffs' attorneys continues to multiply." Fleming cites several reasons for this phenomenon:

Asbestos claims are being made against companies that, only a few years ago, believed they were safe. The number of defendants has increased to over two thousand, a tenfold increase in ten years. The manufacturing and mining companies, or first tier companies, have been exhausted; redress is now being sought from the second tier companies, defined as those companies that incorporated asbestos into their products. Successor liability is also being sought as a result of mergers and acquisitions.

Plaintiffs' attorneys are becoming more imaginative in bringing claims. There has been an increase in the trend of filing claims for individuals with physical evidence of asbestos exposure but no incapacitation or injury from that exposure. This trend may have been motivated by recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings, holding that a plaintiff is not required to show specific medical conditions to make a claim; defendants sometimes pay the noninjury claims to avoid the uncertainty of later possible complications, such as those associated with mesothelioma, a type of asbestosrelated lung cancer with a forty- to sixty-year latency period. …

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