Snapshot of Recent Trends in Asbestos Litigation: 2013 Update

Mon Jun 03 16:24:38 EDT 2013
By Mary Elizabeth Stern and Lucy P. Allen

In their annual review of recent trends in filings and settlements in asbestos litigation, NERA Vice President Mary Elizabeth Stern and Senior Vice President Lucy P. Allen use publicly available data to analyze trends in asbestos-related liabilities for more than 150 companies.

The authors find that the asbestos liabilities of solvent firms were relatively unchanged in 2012 compared to 2011. In last year's update, the authors reported that average dollars per resolved claim had increased dramatically, rising 75% relative to the average cost of a resolved claim in 2010. But NERA's analysis attributed the increase to a changing disease mix of the resolved claims, rather than an increase in firms' asbestos liabilities.

The results observed over the past year are consistent with NERA's conclusions from the 2011 data, indicating a sustained shift in the disease mix rather than a worsening of firms' total liabilities. In 2012, average dollars per resolved claim continued to remain high, but the higher average settlement costs have not led to higher total settlement payments or increased filings. Reserves have also remained at levels established since approximately 2004.