AAI: Consolidation of Va. Asbestos Cases Hinders Due Process

December 10, 2002

The Alliance of American Insurers (AAI) decried a U.S. Supreme Court decision that let stand a Virginia court order to consolidate some 1,300 asbestos liability claims into one trial.

“We believe consolidation of asbestos cases, as in Virginia, raises serious due process problems,” Kenneth Schloman, Alliance Washington counsel, said. “It also ignores traditional tort and procedural concepts, such as proof of causation and injury. This is yet another example of why asbestos reform is critical.”

The AAI noted that the volume of asbestos-related litigation is on the rise and the cost of such claims has forced about 30 U.S. companies into bankruptcy. Several prominent actuarial firms have pegged ultimate asbestos costs for the U.S. insurance industry at a range of $55 billion-$70 billion. Total costs for the U.S. economy, including costs borne by non-U.S. reinsurers and uninsured amounts, are estimated at $200 billion-$275 billion.

Asbestos was once considered a “miracle mineral.” A naturally occurring substance, its versatility led to its use as a component in numerous parts (e.g., building materials such as insulation, roofing, and flooring, brake and boiler linings, wire insulation, gaskets, and ship building-especially during World War II).

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