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Asbestos lawsuit bill fails in state senate committee

Last month, a state Senate committee voted against a bill which, if it had passed, would have required more information to be provided to juries charged with deciding asbestos lawsuits. If it had passed and become law in Louisiana, the bill would have been the first of its kind in the U.S. It is not known whether lawmakers in Illinois or any other state plan to attempt a similar piece of legislation in the future.

Specifically, the bill would have required plaintiffs in asbestos litigation to provide the court with a list of all potential defendants. That disclosure would be made during the discovery process.

Supporters of the bill say that it would have brought more transparency to the legal process, and would have reduced the number of wrongly-awarded damages. Specifically, it would have kept plaintiffs and personal injury attorneys from recovering damages for the same injury more than once.

Previously, the bill received a unanimous vote in the Louisiana House of Representatives. However, the Senate Judiciary committee defeated the legislation in a 4-2 vote. It is not known whether a similar bill will be proposed again in the next legislative session.

It is not clear how often, if at all, plaintiffs are allowed to recover multiple times for the same injury in Louisiana. The civil procedure laws and regulations of that and all other states most likely provide some sort of checks against such abuse of the legislative process, so the new seems largely unnecessary. People who are suffering from asbestos exposure and resulting ailments like mesothelioma and other diseases should not be prevented from seeking retribution in the legal process.

Source: Legal Newsline, "La. asbestos bankruptcy trust bill dies in committee," Kyle Barnett, May 30, 2012

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