Snapshot of Recent Trends in Asbestos Litigation: 2010 Update

17 June 2010
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. In this second annual review of recent trends in filings and settlements in asbestos litigation, NERA Senior Vice President Lucy P. Allen and Vice President Mary Elizabeth C. Stern extend their analysis to review asbestos-related claims during the period 2001 through 2009 for over 150 solvent defendants who report claims in their public filings.

In this report, the authors find that aggregate trends continue to be generally favorable to asbestos defendants, and that there were few substantial changes in the asbestos litigation environment in 2009. Over the past year, asbestos claim filings have continued to decline; average aggregate indemnity payments rose, but remained below earlier spikes; the number of resolved claims stayed constant; dismissal rates pulled back some, but continued at high levels; pending claims dropped to their lowest level since 2001; and average dollars per resolved claim increased, but remained below prior spikes.