Snapshot of Recent Trends in Asbestos Litigation

16 June 2009
By Lucy P. Allen and Mary Elizabeth Stern

Over the past few years, the asbestos litigation environment has undergone many changes, including legislative and judicial tort reform, judicial investigations into the quality of supporting medical evidence, and a heightened scrutiny of the documentation accepted by several larger asbestos trusts. To analyze recent trends in filings and settlements in light of these changes, NERA Senior Vice President Lucy P. Allen and Vice President Mary Elizabeth C. Stern reviewed asbestos-related claims during the period 2001 through 2008 for over 150 solvent defendants who report claims in their public filings.

In this report, the authors find that aggregate trends are generally favorable to asbestos defendants. In particular, asbestos claim filings are down, dismissal rates are up, and total indemnity payments -- the aggregated amount a company pays to resolve claims each year -- are down as well. In addition, the tort reforms have resulted in a changing disease mix that is skewed more heavily toward malignant diseases.