Bill # and Title: HB 1061 – Asbestos Litigation
Author: Rep. Matt Lehman (R-Berne)
Summary: Specifies causes of action that may constitute a product liability action. Repeals provisions pertaining to product liability actions that are based upon: (1) property damage resulting from asbestos; and (2) personal injury, disability, disease or death resulting from exposure to asbestos. Requires certain disclosures regarding asbestos bankruptcy trust claims in civil asbestos actions. Provides medical criteria to set aside and preserve the claims of asbestos and silica claimants without physical impairment, and gives priority to asbestos and silica claimants with malignant conditions and impairing nonmalignant conditions.
Chamber Position: Support
Status: Heard in the House Judiciary Committee, but no vote was taken.
Update/Chamber Action: Each side was allotted 30 minutes on a very complicated and difficult issue.

Those testifying in favor in addition to the Indiana Chamber included: Kevin Knight, an asbestos defense counselor at Ice Miller, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Indiana Manufacturers Association (IMA) and retired Brigadier General James Bauerle of the Military/Veterans Coalition of Indiana. Numerous other business associations favor the bill.

One part of the bill attempts to fix the statute of repose that the Supreme Court determined unconstitutional on product liability for asbestos (and takes it back to what the law was prior to the Meyer decision in March 2016). Part two attempts to give priority to individuals who have malignant conditions associated with asbestos. And the third component states that if an individual has filed claims to a trust, there are certain disclosures that must be made if they file a lawsuit against a company. Numerous companies are still at risk for lawsuits if the issue isn’t resolved.

Late Thursday, it was determined that the statute of repose portion of the bill has language problems that may make it unconstitutional. To allow the bill to move forward, Rep. Lehman plans on stripping that language. The Chamber anticipates HB 1061 will then be passed by the House Judiciary Committee on Monday.

Resource: Mike Ripley at (317) 264-6883 or e-mail: [email protected]