Legislation to require transparency in asbestos litigation and protect businesses is one step closer to passage after the Senate passed MMA-supported legislation last week on a 35-1 vote.
House Bill 5456, introduced by Representative Jason Wentworth (R-Farwell), would establish the Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Claims Transparency Act to promote transparency in litigation, protect small businesses and preserve resources for those who have been injured by exposure to asbestos.
The bill received considerably more support from both sides of the aisle because of amendments adopted by the Senate Michigan Competitiveness Committee before the panel reported the bill.
The changes adopted by the Senate include:
- A requirement that all asbestos trust claims that can be made by the plaintiff be filed not later than 180 days prior to the initial date set for trial in an asbestos action. The initial bill included a requirement for trust claims to be filed within 30 days of filing an asbestos action.
- Prospective application of the bill, to ensure that cases that are already set for trial are not disrupted.
“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. “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.”
The Senate changes are expected to be concurred by the House this week and sent to the Governor for signature. MMA will continue to update members on the legislation’s progress. For more information, check out MMA’s newly released talking points.
This article first appeared in the 3/20/18 issue of MFG Voice.