Who is responsible for the greater share of the cost of asbestos litigation, plaintiffs’ lawyers or defense lawyers?

A recent Rand Corporation study finds that more than 730,000 people in the United States filed compensation claims for asbestos-related injuries from the early 1970s through the end of 2002, costing businesses and insurance companies more than $70 billion.

Of every dollar spent on asbestos litigation, the study concludes, 42 cents went to claimants, 31 cents went to defense costs and 27 cents went to plaintiffs’ lawyers and other related costs.

  • The statistics are misleading and your interpretation is as well. The plaintiff’s lawyer chooses who to sue, and virtually every lawsuit contains numerous defendants eventually dismissed for no payment once it is established that the plaintiff did not work with a product manufactured by that particular company. If the plaintiff did his or her homework before filing, scores of defendants would never be sued and the amount of defense costs would decrease dramatically. Given than many cases have 300 or more defendants at the outset, the fact that plaintiff’s attorneys take out nearly as much as all the defense counsel combined should be the real story here.