November 25, 2019

Maryland Faces Backlog of 27,500 Asbestos Cases

Maryland's House Judiciary Committee encounters a backlog of cases that has plagued the Baltimore court system for three decades.

On November 7, 2019, Maryland's House Judiciary Committee finally met for a briefing on the backlogged asbestos-related cases that have plagued the Baltimore court system for three decades. There are approximately 27,500 asbestos-related cases on the docket in Baltimore and the Honorable W. Michel Pierson believes it would take about five years to resolve these matters. Judge Pierson arrived at that conclusion as around 500 cases are methodically chosen for status conferences every month. Of the 500 cases set for status conferences every month, around half of those cases are resolved either from voluntarily dismissal by plaintiffs or through other means. An issue that is being propounded by the law office of Peter G. Angelos is the need for consolidation of these asbestos cases. The Angelos firm has explicitly stated they can only handle around 175 cases a month, which is wildly disparate from the 500 cases a month the Maryland court system is now requiring. As an opponent of consolidation, defense counsel for the Wallace & Gale Asbestos Trust argued that Maryland should continue in the same vein of addressing 500 cases a month as consolidation is a construct by plaintiffs' firms to receive settlements in meritless cases. Maryland's General Assembly will be meeting next year and it remains to be seen whether this briefing will affect legislation governing asbestos-related cases. Further information can be found here