House Judiciary Committee hears two tort reform bills: statute of repose and asbestos transparency
HB 1596, sponsored by Rep. Curtis Trent, would establish a statute of repose in Missouri at 15 years and is similar to Senate legislation also heard yesterday. Associated Industries of Missouri president and CEO Ray McCarty testified in support of the bill, noting the bill is necessary to prevent frivolous lawsuits against manufacturers for manufacturing defects in products that have exceeded their useful life.
The Committee also heard HB 2139, sponsored by Chairman Gregory, that would require plaintiffs to pursue compensation from asbestos trust funds, if eligible, before pursuing compensation from other alleged contributors to asbestos-related diseases. AIM also appeared in support of that legislation as a way to eliminate double-dipping that currently occurs when a plaintiff first pursues remedies against a current business, then pursues a trust fund claim. In those situations, the judge and/or jury are not aware of the existence of any other compensation for the alleged victim and may increase an award as a result. Also, victims are forced to wait for compensation when they could recover from the trust funds much quicker. One reason for the current delay may be to boost compensation for the plaintiff's attorney - compensation based on a percentage of recovery in a lawsuit.
The Committee took no action on either bill at the hearing.