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Special Committee Releases Report on Delaware Superior Court Toxic Tort Litigation

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A Special Committee appointed by the Delaware Superior Court has released its report and recommendations on Superior Court toxic tort litigation. The report (copy available here) followed the Special Committee’s investigation into concerns expressed by the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce that an increasingly large number of asbestos cases was adversely impacting the ability of the Delaware Superior Court to effectively and fairly adjudicate civil cases.

The Special Committee

  • solicited input from all the parties involved in toxic tort litigation in Delaware
  • held a public hearing where numerous persons spoke (including practicing attorneys, law professors and Chamber representatives) and
  • met separately with representative groups of defendants’ and plaintiffs’ counsel. 

Almost entirely, the focus of all these groups was on asbestos litigation.  After studying all this information for over five months, the Committee concluded “that the Delaware asbestos litigation is fairly conducted for both defendants and plaintiffs and is effectively resolving claims ... very well.”

The Special Committee particularly noted the willingness of the Superior Court judges to meet with the litigants’ counsel to structure unique procedures that fit their needs in this high-volume litigation. Recently, those procedures were amended to address concerns over plaintiffs’ disclosures and other matters. Hence, the Special Committee recommended that the parties to Delaware's asbestos litigation continue to address amongst themselves how to solve any remaining concerns over how that litigation is conducted.

While it is too early to know if the Special Committee’s report will be fully accepted by all concerned, initial reactions have been positive. In particular, the willingness of the Delaware courts to address litigants’ concerns in a positive manner has served to further support Delaware’s reputation for a fair court system. 

Edward M. McNally, a Partner and Chair of the Litigation Practice of Morris James LLP, was a member of the Special Committee.  If you have specific questions about the report, he can be contacted here.

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