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How Policy Shapes PoliticsRights, Courts, Litigation, and the Struggle Over Injury Compensation$
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Jeb Barnes and Thomas F. Burke

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199756117

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199756117.001.0001

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Asbestos Injury Compensation

Asbestos Injury Compensation

The Politics of Adversarial Legalism and Layered Policies

(p.108) 4 Asbestos Injury Compensation
How Policy Shapes Politics

Jeb Barnes

Thomas F. Burke

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the evolving politics of asbestos injury compensation in the United States, which has revolved around tort litigation, a classic example of adversarial legalism. Asbestos policy, however, has taken shape through a complex process which produced a layered mix of adversarial and bureaucratic legalism that today co-exist side-by-side. Overall, the adversarial legal elements of asbestos have a political trajectory that inverts the trajectory of SSDI (Social Security Disability Allowance). Where SSDI had intense conflict over the program’s creation that tapered off, conflict over asbestos litigation started quietly but increased over time. (Meanwhile, the politics of workers’ compensation programs, a more bureaucratic alternative to asbestos injury compensation than tort litigation, seemed to parallel the politics of SSDI). Taken together, these cases underscore how the distinct patterns of distributional effects and blame assignment characteristic of adversarial and bureaucratic legalism shape politics over time.

Keywords:   asbestos, litigation, tort, workers’ compensation, adversarial legalism, bureaucratic legalism, distributional effects, blame assignment

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