Snapshot of Recent Trends in Asbestos Litigation: 2015 Update

04 June 2015
Mary Elizabeth C. Stern and Lucy P. Allen

In their annual review of recent trends in filings and settlements in asbestos litigation, NERA Vice President Mary Elizabeth C. Stern and Senior Vice President Lucy P. Allen use publicly available data to analyze trends in asbestos-related liabilities for more than 150 companies. Incorporating the 2014 data, the authors observed that:

  • Average dollars per claim and dismissal rates remained high;
  • Filings were steady after falling mid-decade;
  • Total indemnity payments remained within their historical range; and
  • Total defense spending dropped for the second year, falling 50% over the two-year period.

Together these trends point to a period of relative stability in the asbestos litigation environment, as filings, average dollars, and total indemnity spending remain steady. Falling defense costs may also be a reflection of this stability, as companies may need to spend less on developing legal strategies while continuing to manage existing litigation.

Going forward, however, the authors note that the impact of the 2014 decision in In re Garlock Sealing Technologies, LLC on solvent defendants continues to be a source of uncertainty. While filing and settlement patterns were relatively unchanged in 2014, it may be too soon to assess the ultimate impact of Garlock, as defendants may not yet have access to data from the Trusts.