Texas Gov. Perry Signs Asbestos Lawsuit Reform Legislation into Law

May 20, 2005

Texas Gov. Rick Perry has signed into law Senate Bill 15, which will improve the Texas civil justice system for victims of asbestos exposure as well as employers unfairly targeted by frivolous asbestos lawsuits.

“I am proud to sign Senate Bill 15 into law because it ensures that every person made sick by asbestos exposure has their day in court while reducing the junk lawsuits that have forced dozens of innocent employers into bankruptcy,” Perry said.

Perry thanked the author of Senate Bill 15, Sen. Kyle Janek, and the House sponsor, Rep. Joe Nixon, for shepherding this historic legislation through their respective chambers. He noted that Texas has become the national haven for questionable and frivolous asbestos lawsuits.

An estimated 40 percent of all of the nation’s asbestos claims are filed in Texas courts, although a vast number of these lawsuits have little, if any, connection to Texas. In many cases workers from all over the country have been encouraged to file in Texas rather than in their home states with the hope Texas courts would give bigger awards.

“While trial lawyers have reaped millions in fees, asbestos victims with legitimate claims have had justice delayed and denied by the backlog of cases at the courthouse,” Perry said. “With Senate Bill 15, asbestos lawsuits in Texas can only be brought by those individuals who show legitimate illness or impairment.”

Nationwide, meritless asbestos claims have reportedly cost more than $54 billion, forced 70 innocent employers to close their doors forever and caused thousands of workers to lose their jobs.

“For too long, trial lawyers looking to get rich quick have played the asbestos lawsuit lottery by filing claims on behalf of individuals who are not, and in some cases never will, become ill as a result of asbestos exposure,” Perry said. “Asbestos manufacturers that misled Americans were driven out of business decades ago. Today’s lawsuits are often brought against employers with only a remote connection, if any, to the harm alleged by plaintiffs.”

Texas is reportedly continuing to lead the nation when it comes to fighting lawsuit abuse.

In 2003, the Texas legislature passed sweeping lawsuit reforms that have significantly reduced frivolous claims against doctors and hospitals, lowered insurance costs for many medical providers and given patients better access to care as doctors spend more time in the examination room and less time in the courtroom.

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