A national asbestos docket that doubled in four years and tripled in the last seven may be contracting a bit. At mid-year, a total of 656 asbestos cases have been filed in Madison County.
If the pace of cases filed through June 30 continues through the year, the nation's busiest asbestos docket will be down by approximately 20 percent over last year's record-setting figure of 1,678.
In a review of the new cases, the vast majority of new claimants - 90 percent or 590 total - come from states other than Illinois, which is consistent with Madison County's well-established pattern. Of the 66 Illinois claimants, three reside within Madison County.
Also of note, the incidence of lung cancer claims - which has been the driver of the docket's signficant increase in recent years - has decreased. So far this year, lung cancer cases represent just 30 percent of the total, or 194 new cases.
Until last year, the vast majority of asbestos claims brought in Madison County were on behalf of victims of mesothelioma, a deadly asbestos-related disease. But last year the number of lung cancer cases spiked, making up approximately 45 percent of the caseload.
The increase in lung cancer cases came after an advance trial setting system that provided advantage to the three largest asbestos firms - Simmons, Gori and Julian and Goldenberg - was eliminated. That change provided opportunity for other firms, local and national.
The New York-based Napoli firm, which in recent years established an office in Madison County, dominated the 2013 docket, representing 32 percent, or approximately 525 plaintiffs. More than 90 percent of those cases were on behalf of lung cancer claimants.
At mid-year, the Napoli firm has filed 124 of the 656 cases, or 19 percent of the total.
The Simmons firm of Alton, which had been the most prolific filer of asbestos cases in Madison County until the Napoli firm stepped up last year, is responsible for having filed the most cases so far this year. Simmons has filed approximately 29 percent of the total, or 187, of the new cases through June 30. Of those, approximately 80 percent were mesothelioma cases.
In total, there were 452 mesothelioma cases, 194 lung cancer cases and 11 other-illness cases.
In years past, court records show 325 cases filed in 2006; 455 cases in 2007; 659 cases in 2008; 814 in 2009; 752 in 2010; 953 in 2011, 1,563 in 2012 and 1,678 in 2013.
Other firms that have filed asbestos cases through June 30:
-Gori Julian - 109;
-Maune Raichle - 109;
-Flint - 26;
-Shrader - 24;
-O'Brien - 17;
-Goldenberg - 9;
-Perica - 6
-Richardson - 6
-Gori/Lanier - 3
-Bilbrey - 1;
-Turner - 1; and
-Not listed - 1