CHRISTCHURCH - DEC 04 2015:Sign reads: Warning - Asbestos removal in progress.Inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause serious and fatal illnesses including lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis. Asbestos defendants should not presume that their best (or only) option in the face of unrelenting asbestos claims filings is to survive in the tort system for as long as insurance assets will allow, and then hope that claimants will simply walk away when no assets are left. Neither should they casually gamble that their insurance assets will outlast the asbestos claims against them. (Credit: Rafael Ben-Ari/Chameleons Eye)

Although decades have passed since asbestos was ubiquitous at industrial sites and operations around the United States, litigation over bodily injuries allegedly caused by historic exposures to asbestos continues in a significant way across the country. Many defendants find themselves in the position of relying on limited, decades-old insurance assets to fund the defense and resolution of asbestos claims, hoping that the insurance assets can somehow outlast the claims in the tort system.

Yet, absent careful planning about what an ultimate end-strategy should look like, a defendant can find itself facing a host of problems beyond the asbestos cases themselves once those insurance assets have been exhausted. A situation that developed recently in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case illustrates some of those potential problems, and offers a cautionary tale to asbestos defendants who are watching their insurance assets dwindle as claims continue to be filed.

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