The Coalition for Asbestos Reform, (C.A.R.) on Thursday urged the U.S. Senate to vote “YES” on the amendment to S.852 presented by Senator John Cornyn of Texas, which sets forth a medical criteria approach to asbestos reform, similar to the successful reform in Texas. This amendment would replace the reportedly fatally-flawed trust fund approach which was previously the centerpiece of S.852.
“Senator Cornyn’s medical criteria amendment is the responsible federal solution to the asbestos litigation crisis,” said Thomas O’Brien, chairman of C.A.R. “This amendment, similar to the successful legislation in Texas, is true tort reform, setting forth strong but fair medical criteria to determine the truly sick, but cracking down on fraud and allowing companies a fair chance to defend themselves. State reforms, after which this amendment is modeled, have already contributed to a marked decline in asbestos filings. With the Cornyn amendment we would have a national standard that undoubtedly would finally bring asbestos litigation abuses under control, while preserving the inherent rights of injured citizens to have their day in court.”
Senator Cornyn’s amendment is reportedly consistent with the recent findings of Professor James Henderson Jr., of Cornell Law School, who studied the history of the asbestos litigation crisis and the impact of recent legislative and judicial reforms at the state level. In his conclusions he found that, “The past two years have witnessed a surprising and encouraging series of turnarounds in asbestos litigation in a number of states, many of them in jurisdictions that earlier had achieved the worst reputations for tolerating, and even encouraging, abuses … In short, one can argue that the states have, indeed, turned a corner in the ongoing process of eliminating abuses in asbestos litigation.”
But, he also concluded that, “So long as the very real possibility exists that a few states will choose to tolerate regimes where out-of-state claimants are welcome to enjoy the benefits of ‘special asbestos law,’ federally-imposed uniformity would significantly reduce the unfair and destructive practice of forum-shopping.”
Henderson’s conclusions reportedly illustrate the great potential for success represented by Senator Cornyn’s amendment.
“The U.S. Senate should vote ‘YES’ on Senator Cornyn’s amendment, and abandon the asbestos trust fund approach,” continued O’Brien. “At almost 400 pages, the Manager’s Amendment presented this morning on S.852 proves that the trust fund approach has become a special interest logjam and that the process is clearly out of control. An affirmative vote for Senator Cornyn’s medical criteria amendment would halt this out of control process, and would, once and for all, resolve asbestos litigation abuses.”
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