PUNITIVE DAMAGES IN ASBESTOS PERSONAL INJURY LITIGATION: THE BASIS FOR DEFERRAL REMAINS SOUND

Author: 

Mark A. Behrens & Cary Silverman

In 1991, the federal court system took an important step to slow the tide of asbestos-related bankruptcies that still threatens compensation for the sick. The judge then managing the federal asbestos multidistrict litigation docket (MDL 875), United States District Court Judge Charles Weiner of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, chose to sever and retain jurisdiction over demands for punitive damages while allowing the issues of liability and compensation matters to proceed to trial. Judge Weiner’s practice was affirmed and strongly supported on public policy grounds by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Forward-thinking state court judges who were managing large asbestos personal injury dockets in jurisdictions including New York, Pennsylvania and Baltimore City also chose to defer punitive damages claims to promote sound public policy. View More