WASHINGTON – According to a report compiled by a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm that covers mass tort and product liability litigation, Pennsylvania ranks a stark second nationwide in asbestos lawsuits filed by plaintiffs allegedly suffering from mesothelioma.

In KCIC’s yearly industry report, its findings, comprising over 90 percent of all asbestos-related personal injury lawsuits filed across the country, show that although there is an overall downward trend in total filings, the Keystone State very much remains a hub for asbestos litigation.

In 2015, there were 5,336 such filings nationwide, 4,812 for 2016 and 4,450 for 2017, a decrease of 7.5 percent from the prior year’s report. Of the 2017 filings, 2,190 concerned mesothelioma – the most fatal asbestos-related disease, and the one which results in the largest verdicts and settlements.

After registering 88 mesothelioma filings in 2015 and 97 in 2016, Philadelphia saw a measured 32 percent increase in 2017, for a total of 128 mesothelioma filings.

Statistical Impact From Philadelphia-Area & Pennsylvania Law Firms 

For the Top 10 plaintiff firms filing mesothelioma lawsuits, one is located within a figurative stone’s throw of the City of Brotherly Love, Weitz & Luxenberg, just over the bridges in Cherry Hill, N.J. The firm is also a major player in New York City asbestos litigation.

KCIC’s statistics show Weitz & Luxenberg filed 99 mesothelioma cases in 2015, 119 in 2016 and 142 in 2017, an increase of 19.3 percent over the prior year.

Among the Top 10 jurisdictions for asbestos filings nationwide, Philadelphia, a longtime nerve center for plaintiffs’ attorneys, ranks fourth with 263 filings – an overall increase of 6.5 percent from the prior year.

As to the Top 10 plaintiff firms categorized by their total 2017 asbestos filing count, four of them have connections to either the Philadelphia area or Pennsylvania at large:

• The Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos (second with 467 filings – Philadelphia, Bethlehem & Harrisburg);

• Weitz & Luxenberg (third with 449 filings – Cherry Hill, N.J., a Philadelphia suburb);

• Goldberg Persky & White (seventh with 147 filings – Pittsburgh, Johnstown & Greensburg); and

• Napoli Shkolnik (ninth with 85 filings – Philadelphia).

Listed in sixth place in the top 10 jurisdictions for lung cancer filings nationwide, Philadelphia had 80 filings – an overall decrease of 9.1 percent from the prior year.

For the top 10 plaintiff firms categorized by their total 2017 lung cancer filing count, the same four local firms return to the list:

• The Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos and Napoli Shkolnik (Tied for second with 74 filings each – Philadelphia, Harrisburg & Bethlehem/Philadelphia, respectively);

• Weitz & Luxenberg (fourth with 67 filings – Cherry Hill, N.J., a Philadelphia suburb); and

• Goldberg Persky & White (sixth with 46 filings – Pittsburgh, Johnstown & Greensburg).

In terms of average defendant company namings per complaint, Philadelphia clocked in with 31 average successor defendant company namings and 42 average unique defendant company namings – though these stats fall below the general average ones of 2017, which are 65 defendants named on average and 53 median defendants named.

As to average defendant namings per complaint among the Top 15 plaintiff firms for 2017:

• The Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos had 42 average successor defendant company namings and 74 average unique defendant company namings;

• Weitz & Luxenberg had 24 average successor defendant company namings and 36 average unique defendant company namings;

• Goldberg Persky & White had 81 average successor defendant company namings and 145 average unique defendant company namings, the most by far; and

• Napoli Shkolnik trailed with 13 average successor defendant company namings and 18 average unique defendant company namings.

Further, it is widely known that a small number of plaintiff firms file the lion’s share of asbestos complaints in a limited amount of jurisdictions, against most of the same named defendants. Here’s how those same firms stacked up as far as their filings that did not name any of the Top 10 defendants:

• The Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos (Of 467 filings, one did not name a Top 10 defendant, for 0.2 percent);

• Weitz & Luxenberg (Of 449 filings, three did not name a Top 10 defendant, for 0.7 percent);

• Goldberg Persky & White (Of 147 filings, one did not name a Top 10 defendant, for 0.7 percent); and

• Napoli Shkolnik (Of 85 filings, two did not name a Top 10 defendant, for 2.4 percent).

Statistics also covered the subject of gender correlation with asbestos filings, with the typical profile of a male plaintiff with primary occupational exposure showing no signs of abating, as it has accounted for nearly 85 percent of filings for the past three years.

Philadelphia also ranked fourth among the top jurisdictions for male primary occupational plaintiffs in 2017, with 244 of such plaintiffs among a total of 263.

As for female primary occupational plaintiffs in 2017, they accounted for 10.9 percent of the 484 female plaintiffs last year.

For the top primary exposure jurisdictions in 2017, Philadelphia once again came in fourth with 244 male plaintiffs (95.3 percent) and 12 female plaintiffs (4.7 percent), for a total of 256 plaintiffs.

For the top secondary exposure jurisdictions in 2017, Philadelphia once again came in fifth with seven secondary plaintiffs out of a total 263 (2.7 percent).

KCIC says the continuous passing of reform legislation may have an effect on these stats as time goes on.

“The overall picture of asbestos litigation remains much the same as in 2016, and is one centered on the concentration of filings in a small number of jurisdictions by a small number of plaintiff firms. We have started seeing various tort reform effort come into play and will continue analyzing the effects of such legislations as more time passes,” KCIC’s report states.

From the Pennsylvania Record: Reach Courts Reporter Nicholas Malfitano at nickpennrecord@gmail.com

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