Snapshot of Recent Trends in Asbestos Litigation: 2019 Update

Thu Jun 20 04:00:00 UTC 2019
Mary Elizabeth C. Stern and Lucy P. Allen

Director Mary Elizabeth C. Stern and Managing Director Lucy P. Allen have released “Filings Decline but Average Dollars per Resolved Claim Reach a New High, Snapshot of Recent Trends in Asbestos Litigation: 2019 Update,” NERA’s eleventh annual review of asbestos-related litigation in the United States. The authors report on a dataset of more than 150 asbestos defendants dating back to 2001, describing trends in filings, payments, dismissal rates, and more.

Highlights from the 2019 update include:

  • Average dollars per resolved claim increased 29% in 2018, fully reversing the decline observed in 2015, and reaching a new peak.
  • Although total payments remained within their historical range, after increasing 19% in 2018, they are approaching the upper end of the range.
  • Reserves, which were flat between 2016 and 2017, increased again in 2018, with total reserves up 13% since 2015.
  • Dismissal rates plateaued in 2018, and the number of claims resolved continued to decline.
  • New claim filings fell 6%, marking the fourth year of declines. Claim filings in 2018 were 33% below 2008 levels.

In addition to reviewing SEC filings of asbestos defendants, NERA analyzed data from the National Cancer Institute Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program on the incidence of mesothelioma diagnoses in the United States. (These data are reported with a lag and now only available through 2016.) Analysis of this data indicates that mesothelioma incidence fell 9% in 2016, after inching up over the prior three years.