30 Howard L.J. 1 (1987)
An Investigation into the Statute of Limitations and Product Identification in Asbestos Litigation

handle is hein.journals/howlj30 and id is 27 raw text is: An Investigation into the Statute of
Limitations and Product Identification
in Asbestos Litigation
H. WARD CLASSEN*
One of the most litigated areas of the law today involves those
injuries resulting from exposure to asbestos.' Each year the number of
such cases continues to grow because of the long latent period in-
volved with asbestos-related diseases.2 For over seventy-five years, as-
bestos has been widely used as an insulator in the United States. Only
recently, however, have the effects of long-term exposure to asbestos
become known. The widespread use of asbestos without proper pre-
cautionary measures is responsible for asbestos-related diseases and
their crippling symptoms that now affect many individuals.3
Unlike many other diseases, the latent period for asbestos-related
diseases is of long duration, often twenty years or more.4 As a result
of such a long latent period, asbestos litigation presents many difficul-
ties. One area of concern involves identifying the specific product
which spawned the individual's asbestos-related disease. The individ-
uals were most likely exposed to asbestos more than twenty years ago,
* Associate, Weinberg and Green, Baltimore, Maryland. B.A. Trinity College 1982; J.D.
Catholic University 1985. The author would like to thank N. Todd Foy, and Christina L. Smith
for their help in producing this article.  d
1. Asbestos is a mineral that withstands extreme temperatures. It also possesses high ten-
sile strength, heat-resistance, chemical-resistance and flexibility. Consequently, it has many com-
mercial uses as an insulator. It is widely used in cements, paints, roof shingles and tile. Each
year, the United States mines and consumes over one million tons of asbestos. See Comment,
Asbestos Litigation. The Dust Has Yet to Settle, 7 FORDHAM URB. L.J. 55, 58 (1978). Asbestos
has been utilized by man since ancient times. It was first used as an insulator as early as 1886
and has been commercially produced as an insulator since 1874. For an indepth discussion of the
history of asbestos, see Borel v. Fibreboard Paper Products Corporation, 493 F.2d 1076, 1083 n.3
(1973).
2. See infra notes 22, 25 and accompanying text.
3. From 1980-1982 alone, there were approximately twenty-thousand lawsuits filed for as-
bestos-related injuries. Congress Grapples with Toxic Torts, NAT'L L.J., Jan. 31, 1983, at 30, col.
I.
4. See infra notes 22, 25 and accompanying text.

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