By: David Yates
AUSTIN – Texans for Lawsuit Reform has released its latest paper, “The Story of Asbestos Litigation in Texas and Its National Consequences,” a comprehensive look at Texas’ involvement with asbestos litigation – arguably the longest running mass-tort in America.
In its 40-year history, asbestos litigation has resulted in billions of dollars of payments to claimants, attorney fees and other litigation-related costs.
“As with many forms of lawsuit abuse, the asbestos lawsuit scheme in Texas and nationwide was perpetrated by a handful of lawyers, many of whom practice in Texas,” said Hugh Rice Kelly, president of TLR Foundation.
“These lawyers’ activities were carried out at the expense of the judicial system, thousands of plaintiffs who were pawns in the litigation game, and hundreds of defendants who paid settlements to uninjured plaintiffs.”
While asbestos was an exceptionally harmful product that caused real harm to many persons, the report contends the abusive mass-tort asbestos litigation was driven by lawyers who actively solicited unimpaired clients, bundled them into groups and filed lawsuits in bulk, in part, to overwhelm the judicial system and the defendants.
Additionally, Baron & Budd, one of the most notable asbestos plaintiff law firms, developed a method for secretly coaching their clients to target specific defendants, according to the report.
The mass-litigation machine was designed to enrich lawyers, rather than achieve justice for injured people, TLR asserts.
Texas has taken the lead in dealing with asbestos litigation since 2005.
The passage and application of Senate Bill 15 (2005) and House Bill 1325 (2013) to the asbestos cases pending in Texas showed evidence that thousands of lawsuits had been filed in Texas courts on behalf tens of thousands of plaintiffs who did not have an injury for which to seek compensation.
Also, in 2015, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 1492, requiring asbestos plaintiffs to reveal claims they submitted to the trusts set up by bankrupt companies to pay asbestos claimants in order to address the issue of inconsistent claiming of exposure history.
The paper also discusses recent efforts to pass federal legislation addressing asbestos-related mass-tort issues.
Texans for Lawsuit Reform Foundation conducts and supports academically sound, impartial and non-partisan research, study, analysis and writing related to the justice system in Texas.
Research is conducted by lawyers, scholars, analysts and professionals with experience and expertise in the areas being researched and reported.
The TLR Foundation's published research and reports are posted on its website.