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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Be Careful What You Wish For, the Oregon Example

In Oregon these days, there are claiming and verdict conundrums in toxic tort cases, as described in a cogent online article from Ed Slaughter and colleagues. Historic “tort reform” changes are described as part of the reason for some of the current conundrums. The current bottom line is not a good one for some defendants in asbestos cases because it can turn out that a trial defendant may be only severally liable but cannot get bankrupt companies on a verdict sheet and cannot obtain credits for other settlements paid. Thus, the situation in Oregon provides yet another example of “be careful what you wish for.”

The conundrums in Oregon also reflect some of the impacts of  “asbestos bankruptcies.” The situation in the US today is that we have two different compensation systems for persons suffering from asbestos-related disease. As described before, they are the tort system and the bankruptcy trust system. The two systems operate largely independently, and in some states, they remain completely divorced. As a result, some current tort system defendants may well rue past positions taken (or not taken) regarding asbestos bankruptcies and channelling injunctions, in addition to some regrets about support for past “tort reforms.”

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