Texas Asbestos Legislation Moves to Senate Floor

April 24, 2005

The Texas State Affairs Committee on Friday unanimously voted in favor of asbestos litigation reform that will protect the right of people with asbestos- and silica-related impairment obtain compensation in a fair and efficient manner through the Texas court system.

Senate Bill 15 adopts medically accepted standards for differentiating between individuals with nonmalignant asbestos or silica disease who are truly impaired and those who are not impaired. The right to bring suit is preserved by those who have been exposed to asbestos or silica, but are unimpaired, until when and if they develop an asbestos-related or silica-related disease or injury.

“This legislation finds a proper balance,” said Joe Woods, assistant vice president and regional manager for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI). “The individual who is ill, has the ability to receive just compensation. At the same time, the worker who has been exposed to asbestos, but is not showing any impairment is not pressured to file a lawsuit simply to beat the statue of limitations. Their rights are preserved in the event they fall ill in the future.”

The number of new asbestos lawsuits filed has increased dramatically. Since 1988, more lawsuits alleging asbestos-related disease have been filed in Texas than in any other state. “It is estimated that up to 90 percent of the cases are filed by people who are not impaired. This situation drains resources that would be available to aid individuals who are truly sick, clogs the court system and can bankrupt defendants,” said Woods.

The full Senate is expected to vote on the bill during this week.

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