The concern over indoor and outdoor air quality, carbon emissions, and other environmental issues has been growing in recent years, not just in the United States but around the world. These concerns stem from the recognition that human activities, particularly industrial and transportation activities, are contributing to pollution and other environmental problems that can have significant impacts on human health, the environment, and the economy, and the emissions or pollutants, contribute to the occurrence of climate change. This often leads to public lawsuits against medium and large corporations for industrial emissions. According to a study published in the journal Earth’s Future, more than one-third of all counties in the lower 48 states will face higher risks of water shortages by mid-century as a result of global warming.
In the United States, air pollution is a significant public health issue, particularly in low-income and minority communities that are often located near industrial plants and other sources of pollution.
Multiple studies have shown that reducing toxic air pollution from industrial sources could save thousands of lives per year and prevent many cases of respiratory and heart disease. To achieve these reductions, strategies such as implementing pollution control technologies, transitioning to cleaner sources of energy, and improving energy efficiency have been suggested. However, it has been found that many companies responsible for industrial pollution are relatively small in size. For this reason, smaller companies that are unable to bear the high costs of litigation are more willing to engage in alternative dispute resolution (ADR) as a litigation settlement with affected individuals or communities who seek legal remedies for harm caused by industrial pollution. This conclusion is based on data that highlights that around 90% of companies that file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy have limited financial resources with less than $10 million in assets or liabilities, annual revenues, and 50 employees or less.
According to a comparison between the year 1962 and the present time, the proportion of federal civil cases that are resolved through trial has decreased significantly. Specifically, it is reported that in 1962, approximately 11.5% of such cases were resolved through trial, while current estimates suggest that this figure has declined to around 1%. This indicates a substantial shift in the way that civil cases are being resolved in the US legal system, with a greater emphasis on alternative methods such as arbitration or mediation. In recent decades, there has been a growing trend towards alternative dispute resolution methods, which are often faster and less costly than traditional litigation. As a result, rather than going to trial, many civil cases are now settled through these alternative methods. Because it allows for a more streamlined and efficient process than traditional litigation, ADR can be especially useful in asbestos liability-related cases. It can also provide a more private and less adversarial forum for dispute resolution, which can benefit all parties involved.
Undoubtedly, many companies facing asbestos liability have turned to ADR to resolve claims more quickly and efficiently. Some people have even set up special trusts to compensate victims and settle claims outside of the legal system. ADR can be a more cost-effective way to resolve cases, particularly those involving asbestos liability, than traditional litigation. This shift, however, has significant implications for litigations involving industrial emissions or asbestos liability-related cases, as it may impact individuals’ and communities’ ability to seek legal redress for harm caused by industrial pollution. Alternative dispute resolution methods may not be as transparent or accountable as traditional litigation, and settlements reached through these methods may not be subject to the same level of judicial oversight.
Despite this, in Federal Arbitration Act (FAA), contract parties can agree to resolve disputes through arbitration rather than going to court, there has been a trend toward including arbitration clauses in contracts, including those involving consumer or employment disputes. If the parties to an arbitration agreement agree to allow class actions, the arbitration process will be conducted in a manner similar to how class actions are handled in federal court under the Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 23, which governs class action lawsuits. This includes class certification, notification of potential class members, and settlement procedures. However, it is worth noting that parties to an arbitration agreement can modify the handling of class actions to their specific needs.