In their coalition brief, the U.S. Chamber and a broad coalition of business groups urged the New York Supreme Court to reject a bid to abandon a case management order (“CMO”) that has deferred punitive damages claims in asbestos cases. According to the coalition brief, the CMO was adopted nearly 20 years ago as a means to preserve recoveries for future plaintiffs, to encourage settlements, and hasten recoveries for presently injured plaintiffs.
The brief argued that abandoning the longstanding CMO would disrupt the operation of the New York Supreme Court by adding to its backlog, and jeopardize the availability of resources to compensate future plaintiffs. What’s more, injecting punitive damages into asbestos cases would fail to achieve the policy objectives that punitive damages typically serve in part because today’s asbestos litigation arises from exposures that took place decades ago, and most of the first wave of primary asbestos defendants have been pushed into bankruptcy.
Victor E. Schwartz and Mark A. Behrens of Shook Hardy LLP represented the U.S. Chamber as co-counsel to the National Chamber Litigation Center, Inc.