Encyclopedia of Law and Economics

2019 Edition
| Editors: Alain Marciano, Giovanni Battista Ramello

Mass Tort Litigation: Asbestos

  • Michelle J. WhiteEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-7753-2_72


Litigation over harm due to asbestos exposure is the largest mass tort in U.S. history. This article explores why the asbestos mass tort grew so large and argues that a large set of factors, rather than a single cause, are needed to explain the size of the asbestos mass tort. Among these factors are the serious of asbestos diseases and the fact that harm due to asbestos exposure was concealed by producers of asbestos products, changes in the law and legal procedures that favored plaintiffs, the large number of both potential plaintiffs and potential defendants, and plaintiffs’ lawyers high profit from finding and representing asbestos claimants. I also argue that because of the unique circumstances explaining asbestos litigation, future mass torts are unlikely to be as large. The article also discusses research on asbestos litigation and explores various approaches–successful and unsuccessful–that have been proposed to reduce the number of asbestos claims.

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA