A recent study from the New York Civil Justice Institute has found that some law firms are wrongfully naming companies as defendants in civil complaints over asbestos, even though their actual connection to asbestos is doubtful. That practice is forcing companies to needlessly shell out tens of thousands of dollars in legal bills, according to reporting in the New York Post.
The study looked at nearly 500 New York City asbestos cases brought between 2015 and 2020, and found that law firms listed between 30 and 40 defendant companies on average in each case. The study also found that more than 400 of the defendant companies were dropped from over 50 percent of the cases they were named in.
But, the study says, even if a company was dropped from a case, it could still have to pay as much as $20,000 in legal costs to defend itself until that point. According to the study’s author, Mary Margaret Gay, these lawsuits “drive up litigation costs for innocent defendants, contribute to corporate bankruptcies, congest court dockets, and slow case resolutions for plaintiffs.”
To address this issue, the study recommends that New York adopt laws similar to those already in place in four other states, which require asbestos plaintiffs to include sworn information with their lawsuits proving there is a basis for including all defendants.