AIA Commends Passage of Utah Asbestos Litigation Transparency Act

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Steve Suchil, American Insurance Association (AIA) Western region assistant vice president, issued the following statement after the Utah Senate’s passage of HB 403, the Asbestos Litigation Transparency Act.

Steve Suchil, American Insurance Association (AIA) Western region assistant vice president, issued the following statement after the Utah Senate’s passage of HB 403, the Asbestos Litigation Transparency Act. HB 403 requires asbestos bankruptcy trust fund plaintiffs to disclose information on their claims, which will help to ensure the trusts remain viable for legitimate asbestos claimants, both current and future.

The bankruptcies of major asbestos companies gave rise to trust funds intended to compensate future asbestos victims. Today, these trusts control assets with an estimated value of more than $36 billion. The asbestos trusts operate in parallel with the traditional tort system and offer only rudimentary reports on the claims they receive and pay. As a result, plaintiffs’ attorneys are sometimes able to hide the fact that a single individual is making multiple claims, citing different and contradictory exposure facts, against multiple trusts and solvent companies. This “double dipping” exposes innocent businesses to abusive lawsuits and deprives the trusts of funds intended for legitimate victims.

Sponsored by Representative Brad Wilson (R), HB 403 passed the House on March 9 by a vote of 69-6 and the Senate 21-5 on March10. It now heads to Governor Gary Herbert (R) for his signature.

Mr. Suchil’s statement follows:

“AIA commends the Utah legislature for passing the Asbestos Litigation Transparency Act and respectfully asks Governor Herbert to sign HB 403 into law. This legislation is essential to ensuring that all asbestos-related claims are handled in a transparent fashion. By requiring disclosure of all trust claims, it will deter fraudulent and duplicative claims and ensure that asbestos exposure history provided by claimants to a particular trust is consistent with what they have provided to other trusts and to a court in any civil proceeding. We thank Rep. Wilson for his sponsorship of this important legislation.”

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