Asbestos Litigation (S.2511)

Date: 2017

S.2511 (Bonacic)

MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT

Unshackle Upstate, a non-partisan, pro-taxpayer, pro-economic growth, education and advocacy coalition made up of business and trade organizations from all parts of Upstate New York, supports this legislation.

This bill requires a plaintiff in asbestos-related personal injury actions filed in New York courts to:

- file all of the claimant's asbestos trust claims no later than 45 days after the commencement of the civil action;

- notify all defendants in the civil action of the filing of each asbestos trust claim 30 days after the commencement of discovery; and

- provide notice to all defendants of asbestos trust claims, and produce to the defendants all related asbestos trust claim materials, prior to the commencement of trial.

The purpose of the bill is to bring greater transparency to asbestos litigation by providing a mechanism in state law that requires plaintiffs to file asbestos trust claims before trial so that trust-related exposures can be appropriately accounted for.

The growing number of bankruptcies among asbestos defendants has led plaintiffs’ lawyers to expand their search for defendants who remain solvent, in addition to bringing actions against trusts or claims facilities formed in asbestos bankruptcy proceedings.

This proposal will bring greater transparency with respect to claims made in the bankruptcy system and in civil asbestos litigation in order to minimize duplicate payments or, in extreme case, fraud. It will ensure that juries can render more informed decisions regarding the causes of a plaintiff’s alleged harm, and enable them to apportion fault fairly and appropriately while preventing redundant recoveries for the same harm. These changes will also expedite the filing and payment of trust claims, while ensuring that payments are made in valid claims.

For these reasons, Unshackle Upstate supports the enactment of this legislation.