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Asbesto Case Dismissed

Sat., May 11, 1996

The Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday threw out a $1.2 billion group settlement that many judges and lawyers had hoped would be the way out of a thicket of hundreds of thousands of individual asbestos injury lawsuits.

In a unanimous ruling by a three-judge appeals panel, the court said that the circumstances and interests of the 100,000 individuals in the settlement were so diverse the suits should never have been converted into a single “class action.”

“Examined as a litigation class, this case is so much larger and more complex than all other class actions on record that it cannot conceivably satisfy” the requirements for a classaction suit, wrote Circuit Court Judge Edward R. Becker.

“Initially, each individual plaintiff’s claim raises radically different factual and legal issues from those of other plaintiffs,” Becker added. “These differences, when exponentially magnified by choice of law considerations, eclipse any common issues in this case.”

Friday’s ruling appears to end any chance for a quick solution to more than 100,000 asbestos injury lawsuits that have been filed in federal and state courts by workers who claim to have become ill, or whose futures have been clouded, from working with asbestos.

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