The Senate Government Reform Committee today advanced a bill designed to prevent abuse of the tort system by plaintiffs alleging asbestos-related diseases.
SB 69, filed by Sen. Lincoln Hough, seeks to provide additional transparency regarding a plaintiff’s ability to obtain a settlement against an asbestos trust fund when a plaintiff sues a business regarding asbestos exposure.
The bill would require plaintiffs to file claims against the asbestos trusts first before proceeding against a business in good standing and would require any amounts received from such trusts to be disclosed to the judge and/or jury. The purpose is to prevent exploitation of a loophole in the law that now allows plaintiffs to sue an ongoing business, obtain a full settlement for their injuries, then file claims against one or more trust funds that were set up to pay such claims as manufacturers of asbestos fell into bankruptcy.
“The initial form to begin a claim against one of these trusts is extremely simple to complete,” Ray McCarty, president of Associated Industries of Missouri told the Committee during earlier testimony in support of the bill. “In fact, while waiting to testify, I used my cellphone to locate an attorney and complete the initial form in less than two minutes,” he said.
The bill will move to the Senate floor for further consideration.