Defense attorneys have long said the practice of consolidating asbestos trials in Philadelphia gives the plaintiffs’ bar an unfair advantage, but some are now looking to a recent state Supreme Court decision as an indication that the consolidation of asbestos trials might be on its way out.
The practice of consolidating trials began more than 25 years ago in an effort to get control of a spiraling backlog of asbestos cases. Consolidation was credited with quickly wiping out the backlog and became the standard for how asbestos cases would be tried in Philadelphia.
Nearly five years ago, however, the court eliminated mandatory consolidation and placed a limit on the number of cases that could be consolidated into a single trial. Since then, the number of asbestos cases being tried to verdict has been decreasing, which attorneys attributed to growing success with mediation. Of the cases that go to trial, thought, many are still consolidated.
However, according to defense attorneys, the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Rost v. Ford Motor might help the defense bar in its efforts to challenge consolidation.
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