St. Louis Record

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Defense bar, experts, gather for asbestos conference as figures reveal sharp rise in St. Louis filings

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By John Breslin | Nov 11, 2019

Asbestos2

Experts on genetics will speak on the potential link to individuals contracting mesothelioma at a defense bar asbestos litigation conference to be held this week.

The annual DRI Asbestos Medicine conference, to be held in Boston Nov. 14 and 15, is happening as latest figures reveal increases in filings of claims in many of the most popular venues for litigation, including St. Louis.

Among other issues to be discussed at the conference will be recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings that affect asbestos litigation and talks on cross-examination and depositions, according to DRI, the association representing defense attorneys.

According to latest figures published by KCIC, a consultancy firm that specializes in managing product liabilities, St. Louis Circuit Court saw a 75 percent year on year rise in filings in the first half of this year.

While neighboring Madison and St. Clair counties in Illinois continue to top the list of filings by individuals claiming asbestos caused their cancer, St. Louis is the fourth busiest jurisdiction, according to the report.

Of the 1.035 total filings in the first half of this year, 117 happened in St. Louis, an increase from 67 in the same period in 2018. Only New York, apart from the two Illinois counties, had a higher number. 

The law firms representing the most claimants are the Gori Law Firm based in Edwardsville and Simmons, Hanley & Conroy in Alton, both in Madison County. But St. Louis firm, SWMW, filed 95 in the first half of the year, a 55.7 percent increase on the previous year.

KCIC, the consulting firm that publishes the report, is hosting a session at this week's conference addressing the issue of data and what can learned from the information gleaned from ongoing and past litigation.

"My co-panelist and I will be discussing how to use asbestos litigation data to help defense counsel and defendants improve their responses to trends in asbestos litigation," wrote Carrie Scott, KCIC'S technology expert, in a post on the company website. "Managing massive data sets well can guide strategy, and ultimately support better outcomes."

On genetics and links with mesothelioma and other cancers, advances in "precision medicine," which allows treatment based on an individual's genetic profile, is being considered when defending against what is known as "black box" studies of large numbers of people to determine risk.

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