Fla. Asbestos Bill Gains Initial Committee Approval

March 30, 2005

The first steps toward achieving asbestos litigation reform in Florida were taken Wednesday, according to the American Insurance Association (AIA).

The Asbestos and Silica Compensation Fairness Act of 2005 (HB 1019) received its initial legislative hearing by the House of Representatives’ Civil Justice Committee and was subsequently approved.

“There is a pressing need to return the asbestos claims and litigation process in Florida to a fair and equitable method for compensating those who are truly sick,” said Cecil Pearce, AIA vice president, Southeast Region. “Certain jurisdictions in the state have become magnets for dubious asbestos-related claims. This legislation puts those who are truly ill and have a legitimate right to bring their claim in Florida at the head of the line.”

HB 1019 requires those suffering from asbestos-related illnesses to meet a minimum level of objective medical criteria before filing an action. The bill also eliminates the statute of limitations, preserving the ability of individuals who do not yet show signs of impairment to file a claim when and if they ever do become sick. The bill also requires that those who file asbestos-related claims in Florida courts are Florida residents or are able to document that their exposure occurred in Florida.

HB 1019 now proceeds to the House Judiciary Committee for further consideration. Asbestos litigation reform and third-party bad faith reform are among AIA’s top legislative objectives in Florida this year.

Both measures are also part of the broader civil justice reform agenda being advocated by Gov. Jeb Bush (R) and the Florida business community.

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