Court Cases Expose Questionable Ethics by Trial Lawyers in Asbestos Suits

Date: February 18, 2014

Recent news articles about an appeal of a mass tort on asbestos illnesses bring to light that plaintiff’s law firms are suing multiple companies on behalf of single individuals, then changing the evidence about what product caused the exposure to fit the case at hand. Rules for asbestos bankruptcy litigation shroud discovery and allow for this abuse. 

The judge in the Garlock Sealing Technologies case handed down scathing criticism of the trial lawyers in the case, among them a Pennsylvania law firm.  He determined that more than half of the cases brought against Garlock …

“involved misrepresentation of exposure evidence. It appears certain that more extensive discovery would show more extensive abuse. But that is not necessary because the startling pattern of misrepresentation that has been shown is sufficiently persuasive.”

The problem with limited discovery and questionable claims in asbestos litigation is also hurting small Pennsylvania businesses. Even though trial lawyers may have received large awards from federal bankruptcy trusts set up by former asbestos manufacturers, they are filing additional suits against small companies that may have sold products containing asbestos.  Some NFIB members have been sued, never knowing that plumbing supplies or other items they sold decades ago might make them vulnerable.  NFIB is advocating for state legislation that forces plaintiff firms to reveal details about previous cases and awards and shine a light on this racket.

Meanwhile, the Garlock firm, which is emerging from bankruptcy, intends to use the recent ruling to bring a racketeering case against the mass tort law firms.

NFIB’s Kevin Shivers recently appeared on Comcast Newsmakers to discuss this topic. Read the highlights as summarized by the American Tort Reform Association.

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