WASHINGTON (AP) -- More than 600,000 asbestos-related lawsuits are clogging the nation's courts and eventually could cost businesses more than $200 billion, a study says.
The study by the Rand Institute for Civil Justice estimates that 500,000 to 2.4 million more suits could be filed.
More than 60 companies have sought bankruptcy protection since 2000 because of mounting asbestos exposure claims and hefty settlements. As the manufacturers disappear, lawsuits are targeting companies that sold or used products containing asbestos.
The release of the report Wednesday coincided with a congressional hearing into what companies, insurers and some lawyers for victims are calling a national crisis.
"Asbestos litigation has become a national nightmare, as well as a national disgrace, and cries out for your attention," Steven Kazan, an Oakland, Calif., lawyer told the Senate Judiciary Committee.
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