Emergency room doctors and nurses understand priority. Patients most in need of medical attention are the first to be treated. It doesn't matter who entered the emergency room first. Those who are most severely injured get priority attention. This is as it should be.
Unfortunately, our courts don't operate with that same sense of priority. This is especially true in the handling of asbestos cases, which are growing at an estimated 50,000 claims per month nationally.
The increasing caseload is not due to lack of trials and settlements. Rather, it is the result of a flood of new asbestos claims, the overwhelming bulk of which are by individuals who have no illness and no impairment.
Troubled by this unfairness, many out-of-state judges have found a solution to the asbestos crisis by creating inactive dockets.
In such jurisdictions as Baltimore, Chicago, New York City and the entire state of Massachusetts, those most severally ill are moved to the front of the line so that they can have their asbestos case heard.
The inactive docket does three important things: It gives priority to the claims of those who are severely ill, preserves assets so that future claimants will have someone to collect from, and preserves the cases for individuals who are not presently sick but might become sick at a future date.
Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse