Fla. Appeals Court Upholds Asbestos Medical Criteria Law

February 9, 2007

A Florida intermediate appellate court has found that retroactive application of Florida’s asbestos and silica medical criteria law is constitutional.

The case, Daimler Chrysler v. Hurst, involved a lung cancer claimant who argued that retroactive application of the law was unconstitutional because it deprived him of a vested right.

However, the Florida Third District Court of Appeal found that the law “does not impair or eliminate the plaintiff’s right to sue for asbestos-related injuries. Rather [it] sets forth the procedures a plaintiff must follow to file or maintain an asbestos cause of action.”

Specifically, in setting forth the burden of proof that the plaintiff must meet, the law “merely affects the means and methods the plaintiff must follow” when filing a lawsuit.

Finding the law procedural in nature, the court concluded that it may be applied retroactively.

The American Insurance Assocation filed an amicus brief supporting the law joined along with other trade associations including the Associated Industries of Florida, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, American Tort Reform Association, American Chemistry Council, and National Association of Manufacturers.

“AIA welcomes this decision, as it reaffirms a key feature of the Florida law: applying the medical criteria requirements to all asbestos cases, including cases already filed,” said Lynda S. Mounts, AIA deputy general counsel. “We hope that the reasoning in the opinion will be adopted in other states where AIA is currently defending the constitutionality of the medical criteria law.”

Source: American Insurance Association

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