Because asbestos was once used pervasively in the United States and the very long latency period for asbestos-related injuries, asbestos injuries remain an active issue in our civil justice system. To compensate people injured by asbestos, there are asbestos liability trusts set up as part of bankruptcy proceedings for now-insolvent companies that once used or produced asbestos. Lawyers search for claimants and encourage them to make a claim on one of these trusts. But some unscrupulous lawyers also tell claimants to file lawsuits against still-solvent companies for the same injuries that formed the basis of the trust claim. In at least one of these proceedings, the trust claim or the lawsuit, the lawyer is aiding the claimant in committing fraud, which takes money away from honest claimants.
NJCJI advocates for reform in this area and supports federal efforts to rein in fraud. Other states have already begun working to eliminate the parts of the asbestos trust claim process that plaintiffs’ lawyers manipulate. New Jersey must do the same.