NC proposed legislation could change how asbestos cases heard

North Carolina legislators are considering passing a bill that could impact the manner in which asbestos-related lawsuits are tried. The aim of the bill is purportedly to provide more transparency when it comes to asbestos bankruptcy trusts in relation to products liability matters.

The bill would require disclosures concerning such trusts of all claims made against a debtor’s bankruptcy trust. Plaintiffs would need to file sworn statements with the court identifying all potential claims against these asbestos bankruptcy trusts.

These trusts are often formed after Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganizations by corporations. Since these companies still face exposure concerning asbestos exposure claims, these companies can establish trusts to fund the payment of those injured. It would also allow courts to put off trial scheduling until 180 days after a disclosure is made.

There are a number of other requirements that come along with such a bill including immunity concerning certain asbestos products that supposedly meet certain governmental requirements. The immunity could be revoked, however, if certain actions are taken by the government.

There always will be lobbying for new bills in the legislatures by manufacturers to shield them from liability. Because corporations have the dollars to support certain efforts, it sometimes appears that these businesses have the upper hand.

Though not always simple, victims of exposure still have legal avenues to pursue. Because of the complexity that such legislation adds to these lawsuits, plaintiffs will likely require the assistance of attorneys who have a thorough understanding of asbestos cases. Though legislators seem concerned that plaintiffs will attempt to try essentially the same claims more than once, we still need to make certain that these victims of asbestos exposure are adequately compensated. This exposure can lead to asbestosis, mesothelioma and a variety of cancers – in particular, lung cancer.

Source: Washington Examiner, May 29, 2014