NAII Supports Rep. Cannon’s Asbestos Litigation Reform Bill

April 9, 2003

Congressman Chris Cannon (R-Utah) has introduced the Asbestos Compensation Fairness Act of 2003 to reportedly reform the asbestos litigation process to fairly compensate victims with asbestos-related illnesses and help control exploding litigation costs associated with such claims.

“The National Association of Independent Insurers (NAII) commends Rep. Cannon for introducing a bill that establishes medical criteria for determining who is sick. We are particularly glad to see that the bill has several legal reform provisions that would provide relief for Main Street and other businesses that are frequently dragged into asbestos litigation cases,” said Carl Parks, senior vice president, government relations. “More specifically, the bill addresses concerns that many businesses have regarding the unfair application of joint several liability rules in certain states,” said Parks.

The measure requires claimants to demonstrate physical impairment and provide evidence that asbestos was a substantial contributing factor. The bill limits the liability of each defendant to its percentage of fault, if they were less than 50 percent responsible. The bill also limits liability for product sellers, renters or lessors to cases in which the claimant can demonstratethe defendant failed to exercise reasonable care, breached a warranty, or engaged in intentional wrongdoing. The bill restricts case consolidations. Venue would be restricted to the plaintiff’s home state or the state where the
exposure occurred. The bill bars punitive damages and damages due to fear of contracting cancer. The measure limits noneconomic damages to $250,000 ($500,000 for mesothelioma cases) or three times economic losses, whichever is greater.

“NAII will continue to work with business coalitions in support of quick
congressional action,” added Parks.

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