Here is the online image of Munich Re’s recent, comprehensive report on asbestos litigation, Asbestos: Anatomy of a Mass Tort. The 112 page report is authored by Nicholas Roenneberg, and is Order number 302-06142. The report can be downloaded and printed from this page.
The same page, on the right hand side, allows you to order a printed copy at no charge.

The report is quite good. It begins with a review of asbestos litigation in North America. The report goes on to explain and explore various factors relevant to reinsurers such as Munich Re.

Beginning at page 58, the report addresses asbestos claiming in other nations in the context of employers’ liability. The report covers the UK, Ireland, Italy, Spain, France, Czech Republic, Japan and Brazil. These country-specific reports are well worth reading to better understand the global asbestos claiming situation.


I owe a hat tip and thanks to Christian Lahnstein of Munich Re for bringing the report to my attention this past fall, and for provding value contributions to dialog regarding mass tort claiming. Christian is a very thoughtful thinker and speaker on the subject of asbestos claiming and its consequences. Indeed, he is thoughtful enough that at a dinner before an international asbestos conference this past fall in London, a smart plaintiff’s lawyer listened to Christian for a while and then commented that he was surprised to learn that Christian works in the insurance industry.

In a prior article of May 18, we noted an asbestos lawsuit in Japan. Since then, the lawsuit has not received much press, nor has there been a public annoucment of the filing of the second lawsuit that was indicated when the existing lawsuit was filed. My efforts to obtain the complaint from the plaintiff’s firm were turned down by that firm, citing ethical issues since I represent defendants. One wonders what issues are involved in providing a copy of a public document. In any event, it appears that the plaintiff’s firm also is not sharing the complaint with Laurie Kazan Allen or others on the plaintiff’s side since her website now refers to the lawsuit, but only to the original press release/article in Wikipedia. The complaint also has not appeared in Mealeys, HarrisMartin or other publications that follow asbestos litigation.

Asbestos litigation is ramping up in Japan. The English language version of a Japanese newspaper article reports that a lawsuit was filed in Japan late last week on behalf of 178 contruction workers (or their heirs) against 46 building products companies and agencies of the Japanese government. The article does not identify the defendants, or the lawyers. The articel also says that “About 40 construction workers from Kanagawa Prefecture will also file a similar suit at the Yokohama District Court in June.”

A parallel article on Wikinews adds some quotes from workers, but not much more.

Surprisingly, the website of the International Ban Asbestos Secretariat does not yet include an article on the topic. That may well change.

I’m often told that asbestos litigation is essentially just a U.S. issue because our culture is said to be so litigious. However, even the reputedly nonlitigious Japanese culture has produced asbestos claims and payments. A Japanese website reports that a Japanese corporation recently voluntarily paid compensation to a person claiming to suffer from mesothelioma. The claimant was aided by a victim’s rights group based in Japan. The victim worked at a manufacturing plant reported to have used crocidolite fibers.