Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Mark Behrens (SHB) has a new article coming out this week in the Texas Review of Litigation, "What's New in Asbestos Litigation?" published at 28 Rev. Litig. 500 (2009). Download What's New in Asbestos Litigation (pdf). The abstract provides:
Asbestos litigation is the "longest-running mass tort" in U.S. history. Since asbestos litigation emerged over three decades ago, lawyers who bring asbestos cases have kept the litigation going by adapting to changing conditions. Now, the litigation appears to be evolving once again. In the earlier years of asbestos litigation, most cases were filed by people with cancer and other serious conditions. From the late 1990s until recently, the vast majority of claimants were not sick. The mass recruitment of non-malignant claims has ceased, and the litigation is re-focused on people with mesothelioma (a type of cancer) and other serious conditions. The target defendants have changed too. First, the litigation was focused on companies that made asbestos-containing products. Then, when most of those companies went bankrupt, the litigation spread to premises owners in claims brought by independent contractors. Now, new companies and industries are being targeted, and new theories are being raised. New forums are also emerging. Plaintiffs’ lawyers are actively seeking out new jurisdictions in which to file their claims, largely driven by the desire to avoid reforms adopted in states that were once favored jurisdictions, such as Texas. The article discusses these trends and forecasts the types of claimants, places, and theories that are likely to dominate the civil court asbestos litigation landscape for the next several years.