Warren Denies Asbestos Claims

Harvard prof's work helped suppress asbestos-related personal injury lawsuits against insurance company


In her Thursday debate against Sen. Scott Brown (R., Mass.), Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren said she did not assist the nation’s largest insurer deny settlements in asbestos-related cases.

“It’s just not true,” Warren said of the charge. “The Boston Globe has looked at this; they’ve written about it.”

Warren wrote a U.S. Supreme Court brief for Travelers Insurance in 2009; in the case–Travelers v. Bailey–the company sought to achieve permanent immunity against any new asbestos-related claims through the establishment of a $500 million trust.

After Warren left the case, and as an extension of the legal work she did, Travelers was able to maintain its immunity and, in a subsequent case, avoid paying out of the $500 million trust, according to the Boston Globe.

The Washington Free Beacon reported on Warren’s work for Travelers Insurance in March:

In 2008, according to her financial disclosure records, Warren received $73,625 from Simpson, Thacher, & Bartlett LLP, the New York law firm representing the Hartford, Conn.-based Travelers Insurance. The following year, she received $94,772 in “non-employee comp” from Travelers, and in 2010 she was paid $43,938 in non-employee comp by the insurance company.  Travelers also paid her husband $1,000 in 2009, according to Warren’s financial disclosure records. […]

In 2004, Travelers settled with several plaintiffs for $445 million, in exchange for an order from the bankruptcy court clarifying its 1986 decision that no new asbestos cases could be brought against Travelers. However, in 2008 the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that ruling and held that the bankruptcy court had no authority in 1986 to block all future lawsuits against Travelers.

Not until the 2009 Supreme Court case, which Warren helped win, did Travelers finally gain binding immunity against all new lawsuits related to its alleged conduct.

In effect, Warren helped end the “asbestos litigation crisis.”