Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Asbestos lawsuit trend: required disclosure of previous suits

Earlier this month, the Ohio state legislature passed a bill which could effectively limit asbestos claimants' ability to file personal injury lawsuits in that state. Soon after the Ohio bill's passage, similar legislation was introduced in the Illinois state senate. Is it only a matter of time before such a bill becomes law in Pennsylvania as well?

In general, people who are exposed to asbestos and become sickened as a result have two primary avenues for seeking compensation from the companies or individuals responsible for that exposure. The first is to seek payment from a trust that has been set up by a company (usually after it has gone bankrupt from paying out asbestos claims) in order to compensate victims. The second is to file a civil asbestos lawsuit.

Under the Ohio and Illinois bills, people who file asbestos lawsuits in the state will be required to disclose all asbestos claims previously filed by them or on their behalf, including claims for compensation from a trust. If they fail to do so, they could face charges of perjury.

The goal of these bills is, allegedly, to prevent people from "double-dipping" by collecting payment from an asbestos trust and then receiving a damages award from a civil lawsuit. However, many believe that the bills will have the effect of preventing people who have been harmed by asbestos exposure from receiving compensation that they need and legitimately deserve.

It is not known whether any Pennsylvania lawmakers plan to introduce a similar bill here. If that happens, we will continue to update our blog with any new developments.

Source: Madison Record, "Kay to introduce legislation to prevent asbestos 'double-dipping'," Ann Maher, Dec. 12, 2012

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