WASHINGTON - In a letter to each member of the U.S. Congress, Karen Kerrigan, president and CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council), urged members of the House and Senate to take legislative action regarding asbestos litigation and resolve a system that has become "dysfunctional and inequitable."

According to the SBE Council, asbestos litigation has cost businesses approximately $86 billion to date. Asbestos lawsuits have driven more than 75 companies into bankruptcy and another 8,400 to court - many of them small businesses, the organization says.

In her testimony before a U.S. Senate Committee in 1999, Kerrigan forewarned that small businesses would be a growing target of asbestos litigation: "The handwriting is on the wall for small businesses. Unless a solution is enacted, I have no doubt that more and more small businesses will become targets."

Kerrigan wrote in her recent letter: "There is no glee in having been accurate."

She added that small businesses have been included in suits as "peripheral participants." Many companies fall into this category, including contractors.

Kerrigan urged Congress to move forward with a solution that will stop small businesses from being entangled in litigation, provide victims with the compensation they deserve, and produce a legislative solution that gives certainty to all businesses involved in these suits.

Publication date: 03/21/2005