U.S. Chamber Reacts to Massive Illinois Asbestos Verdict

Mar 15, 2011, 17:53 ET from U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform

WASHINGTON, March 15, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, issued the following statement regarding a $90 million asbestos verdict handed down in McLean County, Illinois on March 11, 2011:

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"A jury's decision in a McLean County, Illinois asbestos case has resulted in a $90 million judgment, believed to be the second highest verdict ever in a mesothelioma case.

"Owens-Illinois was assessed $40 million in punitive damages and Honeywell International Inc. and Pneumo Abex were assessed $20 million each, even though there were no allegations by the plaintiff in the case that he ever worked for, or was exposed to any asbestos-containing materials made by the three companies.

"Instead, the plaintiff had claimed the three companies conspired to conceal information about the health risks of asbestos from their employees, customers and others, a claim the companies vehemently deny and say was not supported by evidence presented at trial.

"This runaway verdict against companies that even the plaintiff admitted did not expose him to asbestos, is the result of the trial court's utter failure to follow the rule of law and controlling precedent.

"How can companies in this country create jobs and energize the economy when they are drained of tens of millions of dollars in abusive litigation in which their products were not even involved?

"The ruling confirms a troubling trend in the State of Illinois where there is a hostile litigation environment that continues to destroy jobs and impair economic growth."

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SOURCE U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform