Statement of The National Center for Public Policy Research on the March 5, 2003 Asbestos Hearing in the U.S. Senate

The National Center for Public Policy Research is delighted that the Senate Judiciary Committee is meeting today to further investigate options for mitigating at least some of the damage caused by the asbestos litigation crisis.

Personal injury lawyers have sued the companies that mined and produced asbestos into bankruptcy and now suing virtually every company or business that ever used asbestos in a product, even when no harm was done.

Last year, the Rand Institute of Civil Justice released a study saying a whopping 85 percent of America’s major corporations are targets of asbestos lawsuits, as are tens of thousands of smaller businesses.

More than 67 companies hit by asbestos lawsuits have declared bankruptcy. Several hundred more may do so. The total liability involved in these lawsuits nears $300 billion.

To put this number in perspective, it is about how much it costs the U.S. to win a significant regional war.

Asbestos liabilities depress the economy, reduce government cash flows at all levels and cut into retirement portfolios already hard-hit by the post-9/11 stock market dip. Lawsuits in cases in which no one is sick are depleting the funds available to those who are ill.

This is a situation that cries out for reform.

We are pleased that the Senate Judiciary Committee is taking action on this important matter.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.