MMA submitted testimony to the House Committee on Michigan Competitiveness last week in support of new legislation to address frivolous asbestos lawsuits that are adversely impacting Michigan manufacturers.
Despite the establishment of asbestos bankruptcy trusts, the issue of asbestos has morphed into a swath of tort actions filed against small businesses that are unrelated to the asbestos exposure. House Bill 5456, introduced by Representative Jason Wentworth (R-Farwell), would promote transparency in litigation, protect small businesses and preserve resources for those who have been injured by exposure to asbestos.
“The lack of transparency between the bankruptcy trust and tort systems has led to abuses targeting small, unrelated companies in Michigan with nuisance lawsuits,” said Delaney McKinley, MMA senior director of government affairs and membership. “Despite the fact that these small businesses had no involvement in the plaintiff’s illness, they often must deplete their insurance coverage with defense costs, become saddled with litigation expenses and eventually are forced to settle to put the issue behind them.”
MMA is supportive of HB 5456 as it will require plaintiffs to disclose the full picture of their asbestos exposure without preventing a person injured by exposure to asbestos from having their day in court. Through this, courts and juries can accurately assess which companies are responsible for the claimant’s injuries.
“By allowing sunshine into the courtroom and taking the blinders off the eyes of jurors, HB 5456 will prevent fraud and ensure fairness for all defendants and all claimants in the dual asbestos compensation system,” said McKinley.
The Committee also heard testimony on House Bill 5456 from Kevin Cotter, former Speaker of the House and current government sales manager for MMA member Morbark, LLC. MMA anticipates a vote on the legislation this week. For more information on this issue, check out MMA’s newly released talking points.
This item first appeared in the 2/5/18 issue of MFG Voice.