Asbestos in the Courts

The Challenge of Mass Toxic Torts

by Deborah R. Hensler, William L. F. Felstiner, Molly Selvin, Patricia A. Ebener

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Abstract

This report presents the results of a study of how the civil justice system has dealt with the challenges presented by asbestos litigation. Its sections describe (1) the characteristics of asbestos litigation, both at the individual case level and at the aggregate level; (2) the way in which the court system has approached the three critical tasks of litigation--substantive decisionmaking, preparing cases for trial, and disposing of cases; and (3) the implications of the findings. Based on their observations of the asbestos litigation process, the authors review the strengths and weaknesses of the tort system as a mechanism for resolving mass toxic torts, consider changes that might strengthen the system, and suggest a mechanism for formulating new policies.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation report series. The report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 1993 that represented the principal publication documenting and transmitting RAND's major research findings and final research.

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