KCIC recently issued its latest industry report: Asbestos Litigation: 2022 Year in Review, which collected data through January 31 of this year, and assessed that data alongside statistics from its 2021 Year in Review.
Several takeaways from the update, each addressed at greater length below, are as follows:
- As of January 31, 2023, the total asbestos filings reflected a decrease of 7 percent compared to total filings in 2021.
- Mesothelioma filings increased 2 percent in 2022; however, filings for other disease types, including lung cancer and non-malignant cases, decreased by 18 percent and 9 percent, respectively, from 2021 to 2022.
- The top four jurisdictions in which asbestos-related lawsuits were filed remained the same, and there was little fluctuation in the top 15 jurisdictions overall. However, three jurisdictions had increased filings by 20 percent, 50 percent, and 22 percent, respectively, and three jurisdictions decreased filings by 32 percent, 29 percent, and 30 percent.
- The average number of defendants named in asbestos lawsuits increased for all diseases, except “other cancer” filings. Non-malignant filings saw the largest increase from 89 to 97 defendants named from 2021 to 2022.
2022 Reflects an Overall Decrease in Filings
In 2022, there were 3,550 total filings — a decrease of 7 percent from 2021. However, KCIC noted that additional 2022 filings received could bring that number closer to 5 percent. In addition, the report described a “stair-step” decline in filings since 2018. That is, a decrease of an average 8 percent one year followed by no change the next year. A continuation of this pattern would lead to total filings in 2023 similar to those in 2022.
Although mesothelioma filings increased in 2022 — 1,859 lawsuits in 2022 vs. 1,819 lawsuits in 2021 — mesothelioma filings from 2018 to 2022 have been trending downward. This 2-percent increase was mostly due to increased filings in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and New York City. In Los Angeles, the increase was the result of all firms increasing by a few lawsuits. In Philadelphia, the increase came from the Halpern Law Firm, which filed 5 mesothelioma cases in 2021 and 20 in 2022. Likewise, Simon Greenstone Panatier increased its mesothelioma filings in New York City from 1 in 2021 to 36 in 2022.
The 18-percent decrease in lung cancer filings in 2022 is the first lung-cancer filing decrease since 2017. Several of the greatest decreases occurred in St. Clair County; Kanawha, W.Va.; and St. Lous, Mo. Philadelphia was the sole jurisdiction to experience a significant increase of 14 percent in lung cancer filings, largely due to cases filed by Weitz & Luxenberg.
Philadelphia and Los Angeles Experience Largest Percentage and Nominal Filing Increases; St. Clair County Filings Drop
The increase of filings from 203 to 243 in Philadelphia — a change of 20 percent from 2021 to 2022 — represented the greatest nominal increase. Los Angeles experienced the largest percentage increase of 50 percent from 2021 to 2022 — a nominal increase from 66 to 99 filings. Wayne County filings increased by 22 percent due to an increase in non-malignant cases.
In terms of percentage change and nominally, St. Clair County had the greatest decrease in filings of 32 percent. Of the 210 fewer lawsuits filed, the most significant decrease was in lung cancer filings. In addition, St. Louis filings decreased by 29 percent, and total filings in Kanawha decreased by 30 percent.
Average Number of Named Defendants Mostly Continues to Increase
In 2022, the average number of defendants named was 70 companies. The “other cancer” category was the only one to experience a decrease from 85 to 77. An analysis of the number of defendants named across jurisdictions reveals a range of 1 to 352. Five jurisdictions saw at least one complaint naming over 300 defendants: Wayne County, Mich.; Allegheny, Pa., Madison County, Ill.; Kanawha, W.Va.; and San Francisco, Calif.
The Asbestos Case Tracker will continue to monitor the significant trends in asbestos litigation nationwide.