Lawyersandsettlements.com; April 22, 2013
Proposed changes to asbestos claims have some people worried the alterations will slow down the asbestos lawsuit process, delaying lawsuits until plaintiffs have died. But the lawmaker who proposed the changes says they will help clarify whom plaintiffs hold responsible for asbestos cancer claims.
The LaCross Tribune (4/4/13) reports Rep. Andre Jacque has proposed a bill that would delay civil lawsuits alleging liability for asbestos-related diseases until the plaintiff states whether claims against now-bankrupt companies have also been filed. Plaintiffs can file lawsuits against now-bankrupt companies but do not always disclose that they have done so in lawsuits against still-solvent companies. Jacque says disclosing exactly which plaintiffs face asbestos-related claims will help to ensure defendants pay their fair share for the plaintiff's illness.
Critics, however, say the bill is designed to slow down litigation and delay it so the plaintiff will die before the lawsuit is finished. Jacque disputed the criticism, calling it “sickening” and said plaintiffs’ lawyers hide claims against bankrupt companies in the hope of obtaining the maximum award possible.
According to Insurance Journal (4/9/13), states that already have a similar bill in place or are considering one include Ohio, Oklahoma and Illinois.
Under the proposed bill, plaintiffs would have to disclose that they have filed a claim against a bankrupt company’s trust or that they plan to file such a claim. Documents related to all claim actions would have to be provided to all parties in the suit and any money won through the trust could be used to reduce payouts from solvent companies.
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