Readers of the blog know my view that science matters for toxic tort litigation, and have seen many posts here about aspects of the ongoing revolution in molecular biology. Through some serendipity, I met some people from other disciplines (actuarial work, financial analysis, and PhDs in biologic sciences) who also are very interested in science and tort litigation. Ultimately, we decided to write and sell a paper focused on looking at the asbestos litigation industry with a focus on molecular biology, cancer data, demographic data, OSHA data, and some new legal developments. Overall, we conclude that the insurance industry in general remains notably under-reserved for asbestos litigation, even if thinking only about mesotheliomas As one of the co-authors put it: “The insurance industry’s track record on reserving for asbestos claims is dismal.”
One of the problems we identify in the paper is that actuaries keep tweaking old models instead of facing up to change and creating new models that provide more room for new science and new data specific to asbestos. In that same general vein, the paper also presents detailed information on how the revolution in genetic and molecular science has changed (and will further) change asbestos litigation. We also point out that some of the same core changes in molecular science also have driven notable change in other subsets of “mass tort” litigation, such as cases involving drugs and products that emit benzene. The paper also touches on a couple of big picture legal settings and rules that could have notable impacts on litigation.
The multi-disciplinary team brings diverse skills to bear on the subject. Besides me, one of the other authors is an actuary. He also is a finance person who was a Wall Street analyst for many years, and now has his own business selling analysis and information to persons who are analyzing or investing in companies, including insurance companies. He is Bill Wilt of Assured Research. The other authors are biologic science people who are PhDs and run a consulting firm that assists large companies in dealing with science issues, such as helping pharma companies obtain FDA approvals of new drugs. They also work with companies involved with mass tort litigation; they help various types of corporate managers better see the future of scientific change in order to better understand the evolving risks, and to develop and understand what experts can and cannot say based on real science. That group includes David Schwartz and others from Innovative Science Solutions.
The paper is “New Science and Law in Asbestos Litigation: A Multi-Disciplinary Look at Change and Future Directions.” It’s about 74 pages long, followed by citations to key science articles. It’s being published and sold through Bill’s firm, Assured Research – see this page. A press release is here. The price is $1,500.