April 7, 2015
by David Yates
A Texas House bill seeking to restrain fraud in asbestos litigation went to committee Tuesday, prompting a state tort reform group to put out a call for support.
State Rep. Doug Miller, R-New Braunfels, introduced HB 1492, relating to consideration of asbestos or silica trust claims in actions asserting asbestos or silica injuries, on Feb. 16.
On Monday, April 6 Texans Against Lawsuit Abuse asked Texans to “urge” their legislators to support the bill and “stop personal injury lawyers from double-dipping.”
“Over the last several years, enormous amounts of fraud and abuse of the asbestos trust system at the hands of personal injury lawyers has been exposed in Texas and across the nation,” TALA stated in an email to supporters. “Simply put, some personal injury lawyers are gaming the lawsuit system, manipulating it by ‘double dipping’ so that they can double their profits.”
Double dipping in asbestos cases occurs when personal injury lawyers sue a company and claim its products harmed their clients while simultaneously filing claims with asbestos trusts blaming other products for the same exact harm.
Groups such as Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse argue it’s an abuse of the lawsuit system to allow lawyers to get double or multiple payouts for the same injury while reducing the resources available to compensate those who have been truly injured by asbestos exposure.
“It is unacceptable for personal injury lawyers to engage in this unethical behavior to fatten their paychecks, especially when it reduces the resources available to compensate truly injured individuals,” said Julian Alvarez, president of Rio Grande Valley CALA, in an April 7 statement.
The bill would require asbestos claimants to serve notices of their trust claims.
If a claimant received compensation from a trust for an asbestos-related injury that also gave rise to a judgment against a defendant but the plaintiff failed to provide notice, the trial court can impose sanctions, including vacating the judgment.
Other groups supporting the bill include Texans for Lawsuit Reform and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.