Asbestos litigation is the largest mass tort in US history and has been valued at $250 billion dollars. The vast amount of claimants has even surprised the insurance companies who deal with asbestos and has bankrupted over 70 companies. It’s been over forty years since the first asbestos litigation took place and since then there have been over 600,000 claimants. The number of claimants has drastically risen in the past few years, with the most growth in claims with no physical symptoms.
Nearly every industry has been affected by asbestos litigation covering 85% of the US economy. Originally mainly the manufacturers of asbestos were targeted however now it’s changed to any industry that used asbestos in its operations such as construction, utilities and textile mills. Asbestos was used mainly as insulation, and insulation is used in nearly every industry in some way or another.
One of the criticisms of asbestos litigation is just how big it has become. People are beginning to jump on the asbestos bandwagon even though they don’t have any physical symptoms of having lung disease. This takes money that could be going towards people who actually do suffer from asbestos related lung disease. In addition, frivolous asbestos litigation removes money from companies, harming employees as well as the shareholders of the company. All of these costs end up trickling down through the economy hurting many aspects.
While much asbestos litigation is well deserved due to the extreme health risks of asbestos, it is tainted by claimants and lawyers who are doing it solely for money. Asbestos related mesothelioma, a cancer of the abdomen, is a very aggressive cancer that has a very low survival rate and the families of mesothelioma victims deserve a fair share from the asbestos companies. Frivolous asbestos litigation just dilutes what the true victims are receiving.