The National Association of Independent Insurers (NAII) has joined several other manufacturer and insurer groups with a petition to the
Michigan Supreme Court that would reportedly ensure the cases of the most ill asbestos claimants are heard first.
“The petition argues that the mass asbestos litigation situation in the state must be addressed. NAII urges the court to adopt a statewide asbestos docketing system to provide an effective and appropriate solution to the asbestos litigation problems in Michigan,” said Robert Hurns, NAII counsel.
Under an inactive docket plan, claimants who present credible medical evidence of impairment or sickness from exposure to asbestos would be moved to the top of the list of cases to be heard. Individuals who cannot meet the medical criteria are placed on an inactive docket with their rights to pursue their claim preserved if they should later develop an asbestos-related disease.
“The sound reform proposed in the petition would reduce court delays for the truly sick and preserve assets to compensate them, stem the recent flood of bankruptcy filings, and slow the spread of the litigation to small businesses and other very remote defendants,” said Hurns.
“The NAII believes that new and innovative ways of handling asbestos claims are needed because asbestos filings in Michigan and in other states have risen dramatically in recent years. Reports indicate that as many as 90 percent of the claims are filed by the unimpaired or non-sick. The number of pending cases in Wayne County in 2002 is almost three times what it was in 1999,” added Hurns.
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