SB 347 - This act establishes procedures for a claimant in a civil action for damages due to asbestos exposure to disclose additional claims the claimant has filed with an asbestos trust.
Within thirty days of filing a civil action for damages due to health effects or death which resulted from the exposure to asbestos, a claimant shall provide the other parties to the case certain information as described in the act regarding available claims that can or have been made by the claimant against an asbestos trust. An asbestos trust is defined in the act as a government or court approved trust, qualified settlement fund, or compensation fund created as a result of an administrative action, legal action, or law that is intended to provide compensation to people who have experienced health effects due to asbestos exposure.
A trial date cannot be set until at least forty-five days after the claimant has submitted the required documents and information to the court and other parties regarding asbestos trust claims. Such information must include the amount of compensation the claimant has received or reasonably he or she will receive from the asbestos trust. The claimant also must continually update the required information and documents given to the court and other parties until the final resolution of the asbestos action. The court may impose sanctions, including dismissal of the asbestos action with prejudice, for willful failure to submit and update the required information.
A defendant to the asbestos action may request a stay of the proceedings if the defendant receives information that could support that the claimant could claim compensation from additional asbestos trusts. The claimant can then either file the asbestos trust claims and produce the related trust claims materials or file a response with the court stating why there is insufficient evidence for the claimant to file the asbestos trust claims.
A defendant may seek discovery against an asbestos trust and the claimant cannot claim privilege or confidentiality in order to prohibit discovery of such materials. The claimant must consent to release the information and materials requested by the defendant.
All documents and information related to a pending or potential asbestos trust claim may be introduced at trial, unless otherwise excluded by the rules of evidence.
Following a judgment rendered by the trial court in an asbestos action, if a claimant files an additional asbestos trust claim with an asbestos trust that was in existence at the time of judgment the defendant may file for relief with the trial court. Within one year of the judgment being entered, the trial court may reopen the case and adjust the judgment awarded by the amount of any subsequent asbestos trust payments obtained by the claimant.
This act is similar to HB 333 (2017).