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Surowiecki on asbestos



Years ago the New Yorker did as much as any publication to advance the cause of asbestos litigation when it ran the series of articles by Paul Brodeur later published as the book Outrageous Misconduct, a straightforward morality play about wicked businesspeople, unsuspecting workers and heroic plaintiff's attorneys. A couple of decades later, it's obvious to nearly everyone that the situation has gotten rather more complicated than that, as the magazine's business correspondent, James Surowiecki, makes clear:

Gradually, though, courts came to accept more expansive definitions of both liability and harm; people who had been exposed to asbestos but were currently, in legal parlance, "unimpaired" were able to collect millions in damages, and any company that had sold a product containing asbestos became a potential target....

Because billions of dollars have been paid to people who were not seriously injured, and because court dockets are overwhelmed with cases, it�s become harder for people who are really sick to get what they deserve. ...Meanwhile, the expanded definition of corporate liability has meant that companies with only a tangential connection to asbestos have been harshly punished.

 

 


Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy
rmangual@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.