Manufacturing Claims: Computer-Assisted Analysis of Asbestos Product Identification

77 Pages Posted: 8 Aug 2009

See all articles by Frederick C. Dunbar

Frederick C. Dunbar

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

Dana Heller

National Economic Research Associates, Inc. (NERA)

Date Written: August 3, 2009

Abstract

A combination of computer-assisted and manual analysis of depositions given by asbestos claimants approved for payment under the proposed prepack bankruptcy plan for Congoleum, a floor tile manufacturer, reveals the following: only about 8 percent of malignant claims and 3 percent of non-malignant claims provide evidence of potential exposure to asbestos fibers from a Congoleum product; although all of the approved claims contained a signed affidavit averring exposure to Congoleum’s asbestos-containing products, 64 percent of the approved claimants gave testimony that was inconsistent with the affidavit; and, of these, over 40 percent gave testimony that precluded exposure to asbestos from a Congoleum product. The results support the following: (1) fears that large numbers of asbestos claims filed with claims facilities are being approved for payment without individual evaluation are consistent with the results; (2) mass, signed affidavits using the standard language required under the bankruptcy plan are not indicative of substantive evidence of exposure; and (3) on the methodological front, computer-assisted content analysis of a large depository of depositions is a valuable research tool and a practical tool in the preliminary evaluation of massive volumes of claims.

Keywords: text mining, content analysis, asbestos

JEL Classification: K13, K41, C19, C89

Suggested Citation

Dunbar, Frederick C. and Heller, Dana, Manufacturing Claims: Computer-Assisted Analysis of Asbestos Product Identification (August 3, 2009). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1443477 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1443477

Frederick C. Dunbar (Contact Author)

U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission ( email )

100 F Street, NE
Washington, DC 20549
United States
202-551-3615 (Phone)

Dana Heller

National Economic Research Associates, Inc. (NERA) ( email )

1166 Avenue of the Americas, 34th Floor
New York, NY 10036
United States

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