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September 9, 2011

The Continuing Tragedy of Asbestos Lawsuit Abuse

Last night, President Obama spoke to Americans – including the more than 14 million who are unemployed – about the need for more job creation. This morning, the U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution held a hearing about one barrier to job creation, the broken asbestos litigation system. The hearing was entitled, “How Fraud and Abuse in the Asbestos Compensation System Affect Victims, Jobs, the Economy, and the Legal System.”

Mike Carter, president of Monroe Rubber & Gasket Co., a small family business based in Louisiana, testified and highlighted how an unchecked litigation environment can smother economic growth. In particular, meritless asbestos cases are playing havoc on small businesses in America.

“I can’t bring new staff on…until I’m certain that my company’s future is secure,” Carter stated in his testimony. “We’re currently facing hundreds of asbestos claims, and asbestos litigation may force us to close our doors.” This is incredible when you consider that Monroe Rubber & Gasket never manufactured any kind of asbestos product.

Carter and his company were featured on ILR’s Faces of Lawsuit Abuse website, which raises public awareness about the consequences of frivolous and unfair litigation. To see video of Carter sharing his story as part of our Faces of Lawsuit Abuse campaign, click here.

The plight of Monroe Rubber & Gasket Co. is not unique. There is a long history of fraud and abuse in asbestos litigation, which has led to the bankruptcies of nearly one hundred companies employing tens of thousands of workers.

Unfortunately, contrary to what many people believe today, meritless asbestos lawsuits are not a relic of the past. Unlike virtually every other sector of our economy, business in asbestos litigation is booming. Earlier this year, three of America’s largest insurance companies announced increases in asbestos claims against companies they insure.

This year also featured a number of record-setting asbestos verdicts, and plaintiffs’ lawyers have flooded the airwaves and Internet with an unprecedented volume of asbestos-related advertising.

“Somewhere along the way, asbestos suits stopped being about holding the businesses most responsible for asbestos diseases accountable and turned into a corrupt feeding frenzy,” Carter testified. “If Monroe Rubber & Gasket is bankrupted, you can be sure that the trial bar will find someone to sue in my place.”

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