Senate Judiciary Comm. Seeks Quick Action to Resolve Asbestos Litigation Crisis

March 7, 2003

The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing to address the prolonged asbestos litigation crisis that has been plaguing the insurance, business, and labor communities. Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) stressed the need for legislation and encouraged input from all interested parties within the next two weeks.

“The National Association of Independent Insurers (NAII) commends Chairman Hatch for seeking consensus legislation to resolve the asbestos litigation crisis. As members of the property/casualty insurance industry, we intend to offer our suggestions during this process,” Carl Parks, senior vice president, government relations, remarked.

“Too many businesses are being threatened with extinction under the current system because it permits claims by persons who are not sick and it permits claims against defendants that did not manufacture asbestos and are only remotely connected to the problem. These include contractors and main street businesses, such as wholesalers, retailers and property owners. Successful asbestos reform legislation should include relief for these defendants,” said Parks continued.

Hatch informed participants that he intends to make every effort to develop bipartisan remedial legislation with Ranking Member Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) this year. Sen. Leahy agreed to work with Sen. Hatch to find a consensus approach that would fairly compensate victims and eliminate uncertainty. At the conclusion of the hearing, Hatch asked that all interested parties give the committee their views in the next two weeks and help them develop and pass legislation to address the issue.

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