Citing recent events that have further exposed the “corruption and outright fraud that have long been endemic to asbestos litigation,” the American Tort Reform Association has launched a new website that “will document the overwhelming case for substantive reforms.”
ATRA president Tiger Joyce said that the new website, AsbestosLitigationWatch.org, will serve as “a clearing house for bullet-proof documentation of the fraud and rampant abuse that has truly scandalized America’s longest running mass tort. It also will serve as something of a counterweight to asbestos law firms’ websites used aggressively to recruit clients and promote junk science.”
NJCJI hopes to help ATRA keep a lookout for fraud in New Jersey courts or fraud that impacts New Jersey businesses. One thing we are keeping a close eye on are personal injury trusts created under the federal bankruptcy code and state laws to ensure that injured people can be properly compensated even if the defendant company ceases to exist. The “easy money” that flows out of these settlement trusts tends to attract unscrupulous players, who cheat the system or double-dip in order to increase their compensation.
Several other states have passed legislation that would increase transparency in the settlement trust process to deter double-dipping and maximize fair compensation for injured parties. Such reforms:
- Require plaintiffs filing tort actions to disclose whether they have filed or anticipate filing a claim against a settlement trust;
- Direct the plaintiff to disclose any materials relevant to plaintiff’s parallel claims against the trust, for purposes of allocating liability for the plaintiff’s injury; and
- Ensure that any settlement trust recovery is setoff against any parallel recovery against a defendant at trial.
New Jersey should join the other states have passed, or are currently considering, legislation that would increase transparency and discourage fraud so that settlement dollars are available only to legitimately injured parties.