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4/19/2023 By Megan Burns

Due to an uptick in filings, personal injury lawsuits alleging lung cancer due to asbestos exposure have been a topic of discussion in recent years at industry conferences. Last month’s Cutting-Edge Issues in Asbestos Litigation Conference, hosted by Perrin Conferences in Beverly Hills, Calif., was no different. The topic was tackled right from the opening panel on national trends, as well as in a later panel dedicated to these cases.

I was honored to serve on the opening panel and present findings from KCIC’s recently released 2022 Asbestos Litigation Year in Review report, which analyzes asbestos filing statistics for 2022 and compares that data to prior years. A highlight of the data over recent years has been a rise in cases alleging asbestos-related lung cancer. During my presentation on the panel, I detailed how lung cancer filings have varied widely since 2015. Between 2018 and 2021, there was a 37% increase in lung cancer filings — from approximately 1,100 filings to more than 1,500 per year in 2021. In fact, 2022 marked the first time since 2017 that lung cancer filings decreased, with filings falling 18% compared to 2021 (though 2022 lung cancer filings still exceeded the pre-2018 volume).

The table below, also featured in KCIC’s report, shows lung cancer filings by year for the 2015 – 2022 period, with data received by KCIC through Jan. 31, 2023.

The Perrin Conference also included a panel dedicated to the lung cancer docket. Attorneys from both sides of the bench offered perspectives on lung cancer filing trends, as well as other considerations that are unique to lung cancer cases — factors not necessarily seen in mesothelioma cases.

Main topics covered by that panel included:

  • Incidence rates of lung cancer in the U.S.;
  • How smoking habits, the leading cause of lung cancer, have changed and how that might affect the litigation going forward;
  • The science and medicine behind identifying exposure markers in lung cancer cases to help determine the underlying cause;
  • And alternate causes of lung cancer that might come up in discovery, such as radon, family history/genetics, and air pollution (to name just a few).

Although 2022 lung cancer filings were down, there was no consensus as to whether the downward trend will continue. However, with a significant population of people diagnosed with lung cancer each year, and with the increase in the number of lawsuits filed 2018-2021 alleging plaintiffs’ lung cancer was caused by asbestos exposure, it is quite possible these issues will continue to be discussed for years to come.

For additional data and analysis around asbestos-related lung cancer filings and other asbestos litigation trends, you can download our 2022 Asbestos Litigation Year in Review Report for free. KCIC will continue to monitor filing trends in these cases and provide a mid-year update for 2023 filings this summer.  In addition, KCIC will be leading the 2022 Asbestos Litigation Year in Review webinar on Wednesday, May 3, 2023, at 2pm ET presented by Perrin Conferences. To register for this free webinar, please visit here.  

Megan Burns

About Megan Burns

Megan Burns combines her broad technical skills with an ability to lead client teams on a variety of projects. For example, she helps clients deploy KCIC’s Ligado Platform for claims management — helping manage their mass-tort data, especially in the asbestos personal injury arena.

Learn More About Megan