Industry Takes Asbestos Liability Reform Fight To The States

Copyright 2006 Inside Washington PublishersAll Rights Reserved Inside OSHA

April 3, 2006

Vol. 13 No. 7

352 words


Industry and insurance groups are taking their fight for asbestos liability reform to the states by filing an amicus brief with the Georgia Supreme Court in support of a new state statute on asbestos and silica claims. The new statute establishes a threshold procedure requiring asbestos plaintiffs to submit reports from a qualified physician containing certain prima facie evidence of an asbestos injury.

DaimlerChrysler Corp. v. Richard Ferrante and Pauletee Ferrante is the first of several cases challenging the constitutionality of the new Georgia medical criteria law. The appellants' brief states that the Ferrantes filed an asbestos claim as the Oct. 10, 2005 deadline for filing established by the statute neared. The plaintiff submitted a doctor's affidavit on Aug. 29, 2005 alleging that the plaintiff's mesothelioma was caused by asbestos. However, according to the brief, the affidavit did not say that asbestos was a "substantial contributing factor, or even a contributing factor," to the plaintiff's illness.

The plaintiff, on Sept. 1, 2005 challenged the constitutionality of applying the statute to pending cases.

In their filing, industry and insurance groups point to the current "asbestos litigation crisis" as a need for laws like the one in Georgia. The filing argues that the state asbestos bill was a "reasonable public policy response to substantial asbestos litigation problems." Industry groups asked the court to uphold the constitutionality of the law because it "fairly prioritizes the claims of the sick while tolling the statute of limitations for the presently impaired to allow those individuals to file claims in the future if they develop an asbestos-related or silica-related impairment."

Many industry groups who had supported federal asbestos reform legislation sponsored by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, were disheartened when the Senate voted down the bill last month and sent it back to committee. Specter has vowed to bring back the bill for a vote during this session. However, it is not clear if he has enough support to do this.

April 3, 2006

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