The following commentary provides empirical evidence of how pronounced an impact the consolidation of asbestos cases has had upon the verdicts in the New York City Asbestos Litigation (‘‘NYCAL’’).1 The proliferation of case consolidations as the judicial response to burgeoning caseloads in NYCAL, with an emphasis on expediency and case management, has led to inequitable outcomes, which in turn have raised concerns over violations of defendant due process. The NYCAL data suggests that consolidated trial settings create administrative and jury biases that result in an artificially inflated frequency of plaintiff verdicts at abnormally large amounts. The existence of such biases has been validated by an extensive body of scientific and academic research, and has been shown to yield trial outcomes that undermine the broader settlement process. In short, the statistics do more than demonstrate the inflated amounts of damages that result when cases are combined. They also suggest that considerations of convenience and economy have apparently triumphed over concepts of fundamental fairness and the right to an impartial trial. Whatever benefits to the NYCAL judiciary that has been derived from consolidation has come at a greater price than the numbers and charts can adequately measure.
As the following commentary demonstrates, the NYCAL Court’s effort to manage a docket of asbestos cases by the use of ‘‘innovative’’ trial aggregations has resulted in high-value verdicts that are more than three times the national average. It is no longer just a matter of conjecture or speculation. The charts prepared for this commentary demonstrate that the practice of consolidating asbestos cases for trial has had such an inherently inequitable effect as to deprive defendants of a fair trial and due process.
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