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Defending Your Company Against an Asbestos Claim

Home Blog Toxic Tort Defending Your Company Against an Asbestos Claim

The initiation of an asbestos exposure lawsuit can introduce significant challenges to a company. These lawsuits not only bring forth legal complications but also risk tarnishing the established reputation of a business entity. For organizations that have been meticulously built upon principles of dedication and diligence, such predicaments extend beyond mere legal complications. They represent an emotionally charged situation with potential ramifications on all facets of the business.

In addition, the difficulties associated with asbestos lawsuits can escalate rapidly. Adverse public perception may lead to a decline in customer base and revenue. Employee morale may be negatively impacted due to uncertainties regarding the company’s future, and stakeholders may begin to question the company’s viability. The situation can continue to increase in severity, endangering the overall sustainability of the enterprise.

In such challenging times, West Virginia companies need more than just legal assistance and require an ally proficient in navigating the complexities of toxic tort cases. Defending a company in an asbestos lawsuit requires experience, legal knowledge, and dedication to be successful. The West Virginia toxic torts attorneys with our law firm provide comprehensive legal services, and we understand the gravity of the situation and are committed to safeguarding your company’s interests and reputation.

How An Asbestos Claim Can Affect Your Company

While any lawsuit against your American or international business is problematic, an asbestos claim can affect your company in distinct ways, two of which are bankruptcy and an increase in negative press.


man sadly holding his head

As of 2023, over one hundred businesses have declared bankruptcy due to an asbestos or similar toxic tort claim. However, with the increase in these toxic tort claims, litigation not only goes after solvent businesses but also files claims with newly created bankruptcy trusts. So, whether you stay solvent or file for bankruptcy as a result of asbestos claims, your company can still be affected as aggressive plaintiff attorneys seek out new clients and ways to win compensation.

Negative Press

You do not want your company’s name to be associated with asbestos exposure, as this can deplete your reputation and limit future options to recover. However, negative press continues to increase, with various sources creating lists of companies frequently named in lawsuits alleging asbestos exposure. Once identified, even if you remain solvent and in operation, you still will need time to recover and build back your reputation.

Defenses For Your Company Against an Asbestos Claim

Defending your company against an asbestosis, lung cancer, or a mesothelioma claim can be challenging, though there are effective defense strategies you and your legal team can take. Three such strategies can include developing alternative exposures, the statute of limitations, and bare metal defense.

Alternative Exposure

Often, the first defense sought will be alternative exposure. This defense does not focus on whether or not a plaintiff’s disease resulted from asbestos exposure but instead denies that the exposure came from your products or resided on your premises. Therefore, any asbestos-related disease that the plaintiff suffers was not caused by your company.

In many cases, an asbestos-related disease fails to show up for years after the exposure, making it more difficult to pin down exactly when it occurred and creating challenges in finding evidence and witnesses.

To use this defense, your legal team will review the plaintiff’s records, including work history, medical records, workers’ compensation files, testimony, and more, to identify other exposure potentials. For example, by researching the employment and residential history of the plaintiff, alternative exposure sites may be identified, and causation can shift to other parties, eliminating or reducing your asbestos liabilities.

Statute of Limitations

There is a time limit on when plaintiffs can file a lawsuit. For West Virginia, this statute of limitation is two years. A straightforward defense in an asbestos action is that the plaintiff failed to meet this statute of limitations when filing their claim.

Bare Metal Defense

If your company sells or manufactures equipment that involves asbestos components, such as gaskets, valves, or insulation, but you did not have any participation in manufacturing those specific asbestos-containing products, a bare metal defense may be an option. Your attorneys will argue that since you did not manufacture, distribute, or sell these actual components, your company is not liable for the plaintiff’s disease. Further, the argument can be made that you were unaware that these parts contained asbestos.

Removal to Federal Court

In toxic tort claims, plaintiffs generally prefer for their cases to remain in a state court. By finding a way to remove these asbestos cases to federal court, you can assume a stronger position in your defense strategy. The federal government has been deeply involved with industries over the last several decades, and the use of asbestos has been widespread, both in federal facilities and equipment. An experienced defense attorney can evaluate whether removal to federal court under federal officer jurisdiction or another basis is appropriate.

Tips For Preparing Your Company Against Asbestos Litigation

Asbestos litigation is not going away anytime soon, and your company needs to stay up-to-date on how to handle this type of lawsuit should it come your way. If you do receive notice, you will want to get ahead of the opposition, who are continuously seeking new companies to target with asbestos litigation. Here are some tips to help you prepare for the fight ahead.

Notify Your Insurance

As soon as you are made aware of a lawsuit against your business, notify your insurance company. A determination as to whether there is insurance coverage can assist in mitigating the cost of defending your company against asbestos claims, and the sooner you give notice, the sooner an attorney can work in preparing your defense.

Engage Legal Counsel

As early as possible, engage defense counsel. You will need their legal advice and guidance starting immediately and also count on their ability to coordinate efforts in your best interests. Be sure the attorneys you choose are knowledgeable in federal tort law, state laws, mass tort litigation, product liability, and defense strategies.

Review Documents

Asbestos litigation relies on the numerous documents involved, and these documents can date back several decades. Your legal team will need to be thorough in identifying all relevant documentation and reviewing every aspect, then using what they find to defend your case. These documents will include company records, plaintiff’s history and medical records, depositions, and more.

Review Corporate History

Reviewing corporate records and history will be essential and can provide important information, such as how acquisitions or mergers can affect the claim. This review is necessary to see if there is any liability on your company’s part so that the next steps can appropriately be taken.

Outline a Budget

Litigation can often be drawn out, so being realistic about outlining a budget is essential. You will need resources to fund each step of the process, part or all of which will come from your insurance carrier. These amounts will be estimates as to what the various tasks may potentially cost over the course of the asbestos lawsuit, including research, legal strategy, negotiations, and, if necessary, trial counsel and court time.

Newer Trends in Asbestos Litigation

With continual advancements in technology and changes to laws these days, it becomes imperative for companies to stay up on the newer trends in litigation so as to lessen potential surprises. Toxic tort litigation continues to increase, and with that increase comes noticeable changes to be aware of as well. These include a change in plaintiff demographics and a change in who is being targeted in these lawsuits.

A Change in Plaintiff Demographics

Plaintiff demographics are seeing a vast change everywhere, from New York to Florida to California, as well as right here in West Virginia. Where once asbestos-related diseases were not identified until several years after exposure, today, doctors are making diagnoses sooner. Diagnosing asbestos-related injuries and diseases, such as lung cancer, is now easier and quicker due to advanced medical technology, so there is an increase in younger people making claims. This is a changing trend that is important for your company to consider because it means you could see more and more lawsuits in a shorter amount of time.

A Change in Who Is Being Targeted

It is also important to note that plaintiffs do not limit their allegations to only larger companies in asbestos claims. Companies of all sizes are at risk. A lot of this is due to the aggressive tactics of plaintiff law firms who promote going after even low exposure rates and also targeting unsuspecting smaller defendants.

Dedicated Asbestos Defense Legal Counsel

The attorneys with Orndorff Mowen PLLC are experienced in toxic tort cases and can help your company with preparing and trying the case, prepping witnesses, reviewing documents, assessing company history, and more. The state of West Virginia experiences an above average number of cases involving asbestos exposure and related diseases, and as such, you need dedicated defense legal counsel to have a good chance at successful negotiations or verdicts.

Our experienced law firm is dedicated to helping companies like yours determine possible defenses in asbestos and mesothelioma cases and finding ways to mitigate risk and negative press. Using our experience and thorough knowledge of tort law, we will aggressively and confidently defend your company.

Why Clients Choose Orndorff Mowen

When it comes to the attorney-client relationship, the law firm of Orndorff Mowen PLLC takes its role seriously. As a result, our clients choose us because of our experience, legal knowledge, attention to detail, and availability to answer questions and explain legal concepts on an ongoing basis.

We will keep you informed so that you always know what your options are and what potential outcomes are possible. Our attorneys are also diligent in devising defense strategies, anticipating potential issues that may arise before and during litigation, and preparing for them accordingly.

Shut Down Asbestos Allegations Against Your Company

Man stopping dominos from falling

Toxic tort cases can vary and result from exposure to asbestos, ethylene oxide, talc, silica, and more. Knowing you have a legal team in your corner you can trust can make all the difference.

If you are facing allegations relating to asbestos exposure, you need to act quickly to save the reputation and future of your company. The experienced toxic tort attorneys with Orndorff Mowen PLLC in West Virginia are here to assist, providing you with the legal representation you need and deserve at a time like this. We will provide a thorough review of the claims against you. Call our West Virginia office today at 866-481-2765 or contact us through our online form and schedule a free consultation to get started.