New Arizona Law Limits Recoveries in Asbestos Injury Claims

By RYAN VAN VELZER | April 13, 2015

Attorneys representing victims of asbestos exposure say a bill Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law will limit victims’ ability to recover losses.

Ducey said he signed the measure Thursday to increase transparency and fairness in asbestos litigation.

“While victims are entitled to compensation, we must prevent double recovery from occurring in the process. I want to ensure we’re doing everything possible to create an environment of transparency and fairness in Arizona’s legal system…” he said in a signing statement released Thursday.

Ducey signed the bill just two days after the end of a national awareness week to promote information about asbestos-related illness. Asbestos inhalation can result in asbestosis and lung cancer such as mesothelioma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

House Bill 2603 by Rep. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, requires people who file personal injury lawsuits for asbestos exposure to provide a sworn statement of every asbestos-related claim they’ve made or plan to make. The law also allows companies being sued to ask a judge to delay proceedings if they believe the injured person may be able to make a claim with one of dozens of asbestos-injury trusts created by companies.

The Arizona Trial Lawyers Association says the measure places new legal hurdles for Arizona residents with asbestos-related illnesses including asbestosis and lung cancer such as mesothelioma. Advocates say Arizona already has laws preventing victims from getting more than their share of recovery.

“The goal of this bill is clear – to delay asbestosis and mesothelioma claims, to make them more expensive for victims and to make sure no victim survives his or her asbestosis or mesothelioma long enough to testify in court,” said Janice Goldstein, executive director for the association.

The conservative pro-business group known as the American Legislative Exchange Council has been pushing similar legislation in states around the country.

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