In New York and around the country, we count on judges and juries to get things right, but there is no way they can do their jobs if they are blindfolded from the facts. In the past few years, judges have exposed a national trend of plaintiffs’ lawyers hiding critical facts when suing over asbestos injuries. These tactics must be stopped. They yield inflated damage awards, hurt the local businesses sued, and deprive future victims of access to justice.
Our court system is one of our greatest public goods, and we need to protect it from those who threaten its integrity. In asbestos litigation, this threat seems to come regularly from a few personal injury lawyers who look for ways to game the system. The opportunities for mischief are vast because decades ago construction, shipyard, and other industrial workers were exposed to many asbestos products. Some diseases take decades to develop, so people are still getting sick and suing today. When a few inventive lawyers started filing asbestos claims for people who were not even sick 15 years ago, courts and legislatures took corrective action.
The new trick is to withhold evidence from juries about the many different companies’ asbestos products a plaintiff was exposed to in order to inflate awards against only one or two of them. This gamesmanship is made possible by the fact that people who get sick from asbestos exposure can be compensated through two independent systems.
Continue reading at Forbes.