Madison - St. Clair Record

Friday, August 23, 2019

The reason asbestos attorneys oppose transparency is obvious

Our View

By The Madison County Record | Apr 25, 2017

Legislation repeatedly introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to promote fairness and transparency in asbestos torts and trusts could become law this year.

Utah’s Attorney General has gone to court to make four of the largest asbestos bankruptcy trusts comply with civil investigative demands.

Aetna, Humana, and Unitedhealthcare Services are pursuing a multimillion-dollar suit in Texas federal court to force six asbestos law firms to reimburse them with litigation settlement funds.

And General Motors is suing asbestos trusts in Delaware, New York, and Pennsylvania bankruptcy courts to recover their share of asbestos trust money paid to the estate of an employee who also received workers’ compensation payments from them.

The times, they are a-changing. Who knows? Maybe, one day, the Illinois General Assembly will finally pass a law requiring plaintiffs and their attorneys to demonstrate that they are not double-dipping: pursuing asbestos claims in court against solvent companies and subsequently or simultaneously recycling those same claims with asbestos trusts as well, never letting either forum know what they've alleged in the other.

Other states have such laws, but Illinois does not, which is no doubt why Madison County received almost one third of  new asbestos cases filed in 2016, and almost one half of the highest value cases involving mesothelioma. 

Such a law, using transparency to discourage duplicity and protect asbestos trust funds for legitimate claimants, is what the Illinois Civil Justice League recommends.

“In recent years, a growing national debate over ‘trust transparency’ has risen to the forefront of asbestos litigation and is currently a prominent issue facing the Illinois judiciary and legislature,” the League asserts in a new report. “The debate centers on the emergence of asbestos trusts as a substantial, alternative compensation system for asbestos claimants, and the failure of the tort and trust systems to integrate.”

How about it? Let's put our cards on the table, let it all hang out. No one should be opposed to transparency.

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Organizations in this Story

Illinois Civil Justice League (ICJL) Illinois General Assembly

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