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W.V. Firm Blames Almost 300 Companies In Each Asbestos Lawsuit

Multimillion-dollar awards in asbestos-related and mesothelioma cases are attracting unethical attorneys who prey on unsuspecting litigants, Darren McKinney, director of communications at the American Tort Reform Association, told SE Texas Record.

"Offhand, ATRA is not aware of any law firms specializing in asbestos claims that we'd call 'reputable' insofar as virtually all of them engage in 'double-dipping' — filing both lawsuits and administrative claims with asbestos bankruptcy trusts — and coaching clients to tell differing exposure stories so as to maximize their profits even if it means a given trust is unjustly and prematurely depleted, leaving future claimants with nothing," McKinney said.

While asbestos litigation numbers are hard to find because there is no national registry for asbestos-related claims, a report by KCIC, a consulting firm that specializes in helping companies manage product liability, indicates these cases are on the decline.

There were 4,465 asbestos-related filings in 2015, a 7 percent decline from the 4,820 in 2014, the report, titled "Asbestos Litigation 2015 Year in Review," showed.

Even though the drop is slight, it is enough to attract bottom-feeders in the legal community who often place open-ended advertisements to recruit potential litigators, McKinney said. If no individual representing a class of plaintiffs is included in the advertisement, it should be a warning sign to prospective litigants, he added.

The same month the report was released, former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was convicted in federal court of seven corruption charges, including his handling of asbestos litigation.

The Mesothelioma Center's offers tips on how to find an attorney to represent an asbestos-related case. — Joana Suleiman