Asbestos in the Courts
The Challenge of Mass Toxic Torts
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.