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Abstract

Asbestos litigation is the longest-running mass tort litigation in U.S. history. Through 2002, approximately 730,000 individuals who had been exposed to asbestos have brought claims against some 8,400 business entities, and almost as many more future claims are likely. Defendants and insurers have spent a total of $70 billion on asbestos litigation through 2002, more than half of which was consumed by claimants’ and defendants’ litigation expenses. This monograph, the most comprehensive description to date of asbestos litigation, builds on previous RAND briefings, providing more detailed analyses and updating data to summer 2004. The authors report on what happened to those who have claimed injury from asbestos, what happened to the defendants in those cases, and how lawyers and judges have managed the cases, with an overall focus on how the litigation system has been performing in resolving asbestos claims.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Chapter Two

    Injuries from Asbestos Exposure

  • Chapter Three

    Asbestos Litigation Dynamics

  • Chapter Four

    Claimants and Defendants

  • Chapter Five

    Costs and Compensation

  • Chapter Six

    Bankruptcies

  • Chapter Seven

    Implications for the Future

  • Appendix A

    Comparison of Projections of Asbestos-Related Diseases

  • Appendix B

    Estimated Cases of Mesothelioma in the United States, 1985-2009

  • Appendix C

    Constructing the Jury Verdict Database

  • Appendix D

    Major Asbestos Bankruptcies

The research described in this report was conducted by the RAND Institute for Civil Justice, a unit of the RAND Corporation.

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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