TEXAS CURTAILS RUNAWAY ASBESTOS LITIGATION
August 8, 2005
New legislation in Texas sets strict medical criteria for claims of asbestos-related personal injury, says James M. Taylor, managing editor of the Heartland Institute's Environment and Climate News.
The new law, recently signed by Gov. Rick Perry (R), allows compensation only for people who have been diagnosed with asbestos-related illnesses. The measure prevents people who have shown no signs of injury from suing for speculative future health effects and extends the preexisting two-year time limit between asbestos exposure and the initiation of litigation. Florida, Georgia and Ohio enacted similar bills earlier this year.
Taylor says Texas had become a magnet for speculative health claims:
- According to Insurance Journal, an estimated 40 percent of all asbestos claims nationwide are filed in Texas Courts; in many cases, workers from all over the country are encouraged to file in Texas rather than in their home states with the hope of bigger awards.
- Between two-thirds and 95 percent of claims in asbestos litigation are on behalf of people showing no impairment, says Dick Trabulsi of Texans for Lawsuit Reform.
- More than 70 companies have gone out of business and those who are suffering from real ailments are at risk of never receiving compensation, says Kristin Armshaw, director of the Civil Justice Task Force at the American Legislative Exchange Council.
The bill received support from a broad range of organizations including, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), the Texas Trial Lawyers Association and the American Insurance Association. Joe Woods, assistant vice president and regional manager for PCI, says the bill will ensure that impaired individuals will receive first priority in the Texas courts.
Source: James M. Taylor, "Texas Curtails Runaway Asbestos Litigation," Heartland Institute, Environment and Climate News, Volume 8, Number 6, July 1, 2005.
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