Canadian Underwriter

Rand Institute says asbestos claims impact 85% of U.S. economy.

September 12, 2002   by Canadian Underwriter

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According to a report in the The Financial Times, asbestos litigation in the U.S. has spread to so many companies and divergent industries that it now “spans 85% of the American economy.”
FT cited a report to be published by the Rand Institute of Civil Justice, either later this month or in October. The study says the litigation has spread well beyond the initial asbestos-related industries into “virtually all parts of the U.S. economy”, and the costs of resolving asbestos claims had already reached US$54 billion by 2000. The report also calculates potential lost new jobs and capital investment due to asbestos costs.
Rand, which began the study in August last year, calls the issue “the longest-running mass tort litigation in U.S. history.” The Rand report says that claims against non-traditional defendant companies are now almost equal to those filed against traditional defendants. The institute says non-traditional defendants now account for more than 60% of asbestos expenditures in 1998 and likely rising, compared with 25% in the early 1980s.
Rand, says FT, estimates that asbestos litigation today has reduced capital investment by US$10 billion, or potentially 138,000 fewer jobs. That could grow eventually to US$33 billion in reduced investment and 423,000 jobs not created.

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