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Abstract

Payments by asbestos bankruptcy trusts have played an increasingly important role in compensating asbestos injuries and have become a matter of contention between plaintiff and defense attorneys. At issue is how tort cases take into consideration compensation paid by trusts and the evidence submitted in trust claim forms. This monograph examines how such evidence and compensation are addressed by state laws and considered during court proceedings. It also examines how the establishment of the trusts potentially affects plaintiff compensation from trusts and the tort system combined, payments by defendants that remain solvent, and the compensation available to future, as compared to current, plaintiffs. The authors find that the potential effects of trusts' replacement of once-solvent defendants are very different in states with joint-and-several liability than in states with several liability. In states with joint-and-several liability, total plaintiff compensation should not change. In several-liability states, the replacement of once-solvent defendants by trusts can cause total plaintiff compensation to increase, decrease, or remain unchanged. The findings underscore the importance of information on plaintiff exposure to the products and practices of the bankrupt firms in determining the trusts' effects on plaintiff compensation and on payments by defendants that remain solvent.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Linkages Between the Trusts and Tort Cases in Six States

  • Chapter Three

    Potential Effects That Trusts Can Have on Total Plaintiff Compensation and Payments by Defendants That Remain Solvent

  • Chapter Four

    Conclusion

  • Appendix A

    Background on Liability Standards

  • Appendix B

    Liability Rules and Court Procedures Relevant to Asbestos Bankruptcy Trusts in Six States

The research described in this monograph was conducted by the RAND Institute for Civil Justice, a unit of the RAND Corporation. This research was supported by a coalition of asbestos defendants and insurers and by the RAND Institute for Civil Justice.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation monograph series. RAND monographs present major research findings that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND monographs undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

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