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  • Writer's pictureAIM Team

Asbestos transparency bill heard in House committee

House Bill 2438, sponsored by Rep. Kevin Corlew, was heard in the House Civil and Criminal Proceedings Committee yesterday.

Under current law, plaintiffs’ attorneys commonly file lawsuits against a company that is solvent for asbestos exposure, without disclosing the fact that after a judgment or settlement is obtained in that case, a claim will also be filed against one of 60 asbestos trust funds.  These trust funds were set up by companies as they entered bankruptcy to pay claims against the manufacturers of asbestos.  Making a claim against the trust funds is a fairly routine matter because the object of the trust funds is to compensate those that have been hurt by exposure to asbestos.

No information about a plaintiff’s ability to file a claim against one of the trust funds is entered into evidence in one of these cases, under current law.

The bill provides that plaintiffs in asbestos lawsuits must file any claims they may have against one of the asbestos trust funds that has been set up to compensate asbestos victims before proceeding to trial against another defendant.  This will prevent currently allowed double-dipping: filing a lawsuit against a company, receiving a judgment or settlement, then filing a claim against one of the asbestos trust funds.

Associated Industries of Missouri fully supports this legislation.  In addition to AIM President/CEO Ray McCarty, testifying for the bill were Mark Behrens of Shook, Hardy and Bacon, appearing at the request of the U.S. Chamber Litigation Center; Lindsay Dibler of Kurowski Shultz LLC, appearing at the request of the Missouri Insurance Coalition; and others.

Sole testimony against the bill was provided by Bart Baumstark of the O’Brien Law Firm, P.C., a firm that specializes in asbestos litigation.

The Committee took no action on the bill at the hearing.



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