Mesothelioma legal claims dropped in 2020 — likely due to the pandemic and shutdown — but talc-related claims maintained a steady year-to-year rise.
KCIC, a consulting firm for asbestos litigation and liability, publishes annual statistics regarding asbestos claims. The company recently released the data for 2020.
According to the “Year in Review” report, there were 3,685 asbestos legal claims in 2020. This was an 11% drop from 2019 (4,137).
Mesothelioma filings accounted for most of the decrease, dropping 14% year to year:
- 2,133 filings in 2019
- 1,827 filings in 2020
Mesothelioma claims still accounted for 50% of the filings in 2020. Asbestos lung cancer claims made up 40%.
Asbestos is the cause of mesothelioma. It’s an irritant for tissue linings, and manufacturers of asbestos have faced legal claims for decades.
Reasons for the Decrease in Asbestos and Mesothelioma Claims
KCIC believes the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic and shutdown in 2020 — especially in the early part of the year — caused the drop. There was an 18% drop in claims from March 2019 to March 2020, and a 27% drop comparing April from 2019 to 2020.
In the latter half of the year, KCIC reports the asbestos claims were on par with the rates of past years. For instance, September 2020 was a 6% increase from September 2019.
The increase in claim filings in the second half of 2020 shows victims are still brave enough to take on massive asbestos corporations.
The largest share of claims were filed in Madison County, Illinois, which is favorable to victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos diseases. There were more than 1,100 claims filed in this jurisdiction. Of them, 879 were mesothelioma claims.
More than 81% of victims who filed mesothelioma claims were male. The average age of victims was 75.
Secondary Exposure Claims Increase Behind Awareness of Talc and Mesothelioma
Another hopeful sign is the rise in secondary asbestos exposure claims. They were higher in 2020 compared to past years:
- 10% increase among females
- 9% increase among males
These refer to nonoccupational exposure, such as secondhand or talc cosmetics.
“These are cases where a plaintiff is exposed to asbestos, either primary or secondary, but the exposure is not through their employment,” the KCIC report states. “An example would be someone whose primary occupation is not as a mechanic but who changed the brakes on his car at home.”
Claims involving asbestos mixed with talcum powder are consistently in news reports and lead to massive verdicts for victims.
Johnson & Johnson elected to discontinue producing its talc-based Baby Powder in North American markets, although the company still faces thousands of claims due to the lengthy latency period.
Sources & Author
- Asbestos Litigation 2020: Year in Review. KCIC. Retrieved from: https://www.kcic.com/media/2153/kcic_asbestos2020report.pdf. Accessed: 04/13/2021.
Sources & Author