Lawsuits have been filed for years blaming automakers for exposure to asbestos found in brake pads and other auto parts, but the volume of such litigation appears to be sharply increasing. Between February 2002 and February 2003 the number of cases filed against Ford nearly doubled, from 25,000 to 41,500. “In a filing with the SEC, Ford said that it is facing a rise in lawsuits as the original manufacturers of the components have gone bankrupt over the past several years. Ford’s report said, ‘In most asbestos litigation, we are not the sole defendant. We believe we are being more aggressively targeted in asbestos suits because many previously targeted companies have filed for bankruptcy.'” (Robert Lane, “Asbestos Suits Costing Ford As Others Go Broke”, Blue Oval News, Apr. 14; Ed Garsten, “Automakers see asbestos lawsuits rise”, Detroit News, Mar. 21).