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Asbestos Liability Lawyer

Asbestos Liability

We represent policyholders when insurers wrongly deny coverage for asbestos-related claims. Barnes & Thornburg has experience representing businesses at virtually every stage of the asbestos claims handling process and insurance coverage litigation. 

Courts around the country have ruled that historical general liability and excess policies provide coverage for asbestos liabilities, and yet insurance carriers constantly deny coverage. Our attorneys have litigated some of the leading insurance coverage decisions on nearly every coverage issue that insurance carriers try to invent to avoid covering.

Using our industry knowledge and litigation and settlement experience, our attorneys can help you navigate key issues related to coverage for asbestos claims including number of occurrences, aggregate limits, trigger of coverage, all sums vs. pro rata allocation, so-called “non-products coverage,” and application of products and completed operations hazards provisions. 

In addressing these types of complex issues, we develop creative strategies tailored to your business’ unique needs in order to efficiently reach resolution and maximize coverage. 

Barnes & Thornburg attorneys can assist you in locating your historic liability insurance policies and advise you regarding your right to coverage. Ultimately, we will work with you to obtain the coverage that you paid for to safeguard your business when potential asbestos liability arises.

Recovery for Product Manufacturers

Our attorneys routinely represent product manufacturers against insurers that wrongfully deny coverage for asbestos-related claims and have a comprehensive background recovering payments due under commercial general liability (CGL) policies.

Choice of Counsel

A newer tactic of insurance carriers is to refuse to allow the policyholder to select the defense counsel of its choice and to refuse to allow the use of national coordinating counsel. Barnes & Thornburg has experience in addressing and resolving those issues, from the selection of law firms through the rates paid for work defending asbestos claims. 

Bankruptcy-related Representation

Asbestos litigation has driven numerous companies down the path to bankruptcy. Barnes & Thornburg has experience representing and protecting the financial interests of businesses faced with this reality. 

Notice of Asbestos Claims

Barnes & Thornburg also regularly assists clients by identifying their insurers and tendering defense for asbestos claims. We look to show that the client’s products or operations for the relevant time of use did not contain asbestos – or that the claim fell within a channeling injunction entered in a manufacturer’s Bankruptcy.

Securing and Coordinating Defense Claims and Related Success

We have helped our clients obtain insurance coverage to pay for the defense – and, when appropriate, settlement – of asbestos lawsuits. This often involves an in-depth investigation into the client’s corporate history and insurance policies purchased decades ago, followed by detailed coverage analysis and vigorous advocacy against insurers that try to avoid their coverage obligations.

Practice Leaders

Scott Godes

Scott N. Godes

Data Security and Privacy Co-Chair, Insurance Recovery and Counseling Group Co-Chair

Washington, D.C.

P 202-408-6928

F 202-289-1330

Kevin Dreher

Kevin B. Dreher

Insurance Recovery and Counseling Group Co-Chair

Chicago, Grand Rapids, Southeast Michigan

P 312-214-8308

F 312-759-5646


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Recovery for Product Manufacturers

  • Served as insurance coverage counsel to an automotive company in a dispute with its historic commercial general liability (CGL) insurance carrier regarding coverage for asbestos and environmental claims. The manufacturer and insurance carrier reached a confidential settlement of the dispute
  • Represented a boiler manufacturer in asbestos coverage dispute with historic CGL insurance carriers, including mediation and settlement regarding choice of defense counsel, reasonableness of defense counsel rates, and use of national coordinating counsel.
  • Represented a Fortune 500 manufacturer in obtaining coverage under historical CGL policies for the company’s entire portfolio of asbestos lawsuits and, in numerous cases, secured virtually complete coverage from the company’s historical CGL carriers for defense costs, settlements, and judgments.

Bankruptcy-Related Representation

  • Served as insurance coverage counsel to an insulation company in an insurance coverage dispute and in the company’s bankruptcy, seeking so-called “non-products” coverage under historic CGL insurance policies. In that case, the insured reached numerous settlements with its carriers for over $300 million in coverage. 

Trial Experience

  • Represented a defendant class in an insurance dispute regarding potential coverage for approximately 20,000 pending asbestos claims against a defunct insulation contractor. After a 35-day trial over the span of multiple months, the trial court ruled in favor of coverage on a range of critical issues, from application of the products and completed operations hazards, aggregate limits, number of occurrences, through trigger of coverage. 

Resolution Through Arbitration

  • Served as part of a team of insurance coverage counsel to an insulation contractor in an insurance coverage dispute, disputing the appropriate percentage of claims that should be covered as so-called “non-products” claims in a Wellington Agreement-related arbitration. The insured ultimately settled with its carrier for $449 million to resolve the dispute. 

Securing and Coordinating Defense Claims and Related Success

  • Represented a franchisor of residential painting services on the insurance coverage issues arising out of an unusual asbestos claim. We advised and assisted the franchisor in invoking the duty to settle, persuading the franchisee’s insurer to agree to pay the entire policy limit demand less than two hours before the demand would have expired.
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