• 2016 Asbestos Filings Drop, but Mesothelioma Stays Constant
  • August 9, 2017
  • 2016 KCIC Asbestos Report Indicates that While Total Number of Asbestos Filings Decreased, Filings for Mesothelioma and Lung Cancer Did Not

    Summary of Statistics

    Malignant mesothelioma and lung cancer claims are now making up an even greater percentage of asbestos claims, according to the 2016 KCIC asbestos report. KCIC, a mid-sized consulting firm for mass tort and other complex product liabilities, released its 2016 report showing that while the amount of asbestos filings has dropped from 5,333 in 2015 to 4,637 in 2016, the filings for the most serious asbestos-related diseases have not followed this trend.

    Additionally, the report showed that while the top ten jurisdictions in amount of asbestos claims filed has remained consistent, the top jurisdiction, Madison County, Illinois, is by far the jurisdiction with the most filings. While Madison County was also the top jurisdiction in 2015, with almost double the filings of the next highest jurisdiction, Baltimore City, Maryland, Madison County increased to over three times the amount of filings of Baltimore City in 2016. Madison County now covers 28% of the total asbestos filings in the United States, along with 47% of the total mesothelioma filings.

    The top ten plaintiff’s firms, based on the number of asbestos cases filed by each firm, make up just under 62% of the total filings in 2016. This is a slight increase from 2015. Worth noting is that roughly 99% of the asbestos cased filed by these firms were either for mesothelioma or lung cancer.

    Similarly to the plaintiff’s firms, the top ten defendant corporations named in the most asbestos filings remained the same as 2015. At least one of the top ten corporations was named in 98.9% of filings, and the top-named defendant corporation alone appeared in 87.8% of the claims. The average number of defendants named in each claim remained a consistent 66, but the average ranges from 19 to 212 depending on plaintiffs’ firm and jurisdiction. The large number of defendants named per case shows that asbestos exposure wasn’t the result of a single corporation’s actions, but that there was a cumulative effect of entire industries that failed to properly protect workers.

    What Do the Statistics Suggest?

    The statistics for 2016 allow for the following trends to be speculated for 2017:

    1. The decrease in total number of asbestos claims filed in 2016, coupled with a consistent number of total mesothelioma and lung cancer claims, suggests that plaintiffs’ firms are shifting away from filing for non-deadly diseases, and instead are pursuing only those claims that involve the most serious of asbestos-related diseases. This has been the business model for Waters Kraus & Paul since Andrew Waters founded the firm in 1995. Our lawyers focus on representing the sickest of the sick – people who have been catastrophically injured. This trend is likely to continue in 2017, where we may see a further decrease in total claims, but a substantial increase in damage awards per successful claim, as plaintiff’s firms strategically shift to pursuing only the most serious of asbestos exposure claims.
    2. Madison County’s reputation for being a popular jurisdiction for asbestos filing could lead to unfavorable jury verdicts in 2017 for out-of-state claimants looking to take advantage of jurisdictional requirements that are easier to fulfill there. Madison County will certainly be attractive for the filing of some asbestos claims, particularly for those looking to settle and settle quickly. At Waters Kraus & Paul we do not set out to file in a particular jurisdiction for a quick settlement like some “litigation mills”. Our lawyers file in jurisdictions that are the most appropriate based on the unique circumstances of each client’s case.
    3. Finally, there is a clear trend of who the named defendant corporations are. These corporations were responsible for asbestos exposure in a majority of cases in 2015 and 2016, and 2017 will not likely be any different.