Ann Maher Dec. 12, 2012, 12:31pm
State Rep. Dwight Kay (R-Glen Carbon) said he will be drafting legislation to prevent "double-dipping" by asbestos claimants seeking compensation from bankrupt companies and the court system.
He said he would model a bill after one that just passed in Ohio where claimants will now be required to reveal all asbestos claims filed by them or for them or face perjury charges.
Supporters of the legislation have said it will stop double-dipping by not allowing people to go after money from trusts of bankrupted companies created to compensate asbestos victims as well as filing lawsuits against current businesses.
Kay said that given the large numbers of asbestos cases filed in Illinois - both Cook and Madison County have sizable dockets - it is "necessary to take proactive steps to ensure the transparency of asbestos claims."
Madison County hosts the nation's busiest asbestos docket. The number of cases filed in 2012 will likely exceed 1,000 - the most ever filed in one year. Approximately 90 percent of the claims are brought on behalf of out of state residents.
Kay said he was "flabbergasted" that there exists two tracks for collecting on asbestos damages.
He said he doesn't know to what degree Illinois court cases are affected by the practice of double-dipping, but that transparency would help ensure integrity in the claims system.
According to The Ohio Alliance for Civil Justice - which supported the Ohio legislation - problems in the claims system arise because claimants are not obligated to tell the court if they plan future claims to trusts. As a result, the group says, the system is rampant with inconsistent claims, fraud and double-dipping from the trust accounts and from lawsuit awards.
The trust system operates independently of the tort system. More than 90 companies have gone through bankruptcy as a result of asbestos litigation, creating at least 60 trusts.