SB 200 - This act modifies provisions relating to asbestos, including prohibiting the manufacturing, processing, selling, and distribution of asbestos and establishing procedures for a claimant in a civil action for damages due to asbestos exposure to disclose claims the claimant has filed with an asbestos trust.
PROHIBITION OF ASBESTOS (Section 292.700)
Beginning August 28, 2023, no person or entity may manufacture, process, sell, or distribute asbestos. This provision shall not apply to the end-use of asbestos which has been installed in a building or other structure before the effective date of this act, the distribution of asbestos solely for the purposes of disposal in compliance with applicable federal, state, and local regulations, and any asbestos that is necessary to protect law enforcement or security interests. Additionally, this provision shall not apply where there is no feasible or reasonable alternative to the manufacture, processing, or distribution of asbestos.
This provision is similar to SB 1017 (2020).
ASBESTOS TRUST (Section 537.880)
An asbestos trust is defined in the act as a government or court approved trust, qualified settlement fund, compensation fund, or claims facility created as a result of an administrative action, legal action, court-approved bankruptcy, or law that is intended to provide compensation to people who have experienced health effects due to asbestos exposure.
This act applies to all asbestos actions filed on or after the effective date and to pending asbestos actions in which a trial has not commenced as of such date.
DOCUMENT DISCLOSURE REQUIREMENTS (Section 537.882)
Within 45 days of filing a civil action for damages due to health effects that resulted from the exposure to asbestos, or within 45 days of the effective date of this act for currently pending asbestos actions, a claimant shall provide the court and other parties the following documents:
(1) A sworn statement stating that an investigation has been conducted and the claimant has filed all available asbestos trust claims, and providing the status and disposition of each asbestos trust claim;
(2) All trust claim materials, as defined in the act, which shall include materials that relate to other conditions and materials from all law firms connected to the claimant in relation to exposure to asbestos; and
(3) All available trust claims filed by any individual, other than the claimant, if the claimant's asbestos action is based on exposure through that individual and the materials are available to the claimant or the claimant's counsel.
The claimant must continually supplement or amend the required information and documents given to the court and other parties as stipulated in the act.
PROCESS FOR FAILURE TO FILE ALL TRUST CLAIMS (Section 537.884)
No less than 60 days before trial in an asbestos action, if the defendant believes the claimant has not filed all the available asbestos trust claims, the defendant may file a motion with the court requesting the court to require the claimant to file additional trust claims. If a defendant has previously filed a motion, the court shall not grant any subsequent motion if the defendant knew that the claimant met the criteria for payment for the additional asbestos trust claim identified in the subsequent motion at the time the earlier motion was filed.
Within 10 days after receiving the defendant's motion, 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. The court shall make a determination within 10 days of the claimant's response. If the court finds that there is a sufficient basis for the claimant to file the additional asbestos trust claim, the court shall order the claimant to file the asbestos trust claim and produce all related materials within 10 days. If the claimant fails to comply with the court's order, the action may not proceed to trial until at least 30 days after compliance.
DISCOVERY AND ADMISSIBILITY OF TRUST CLAIM MATERIALS AND TRUST GOVERNANCE DOCUMENTS (Sections 537.886 and 537.888)
Trust claim materials and trust governance documents are admissible in evidence and are presumed to be relevant and authentic. No claims of privilege apply to trust claim materials and trust governance documents. Additionally, 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 shall provide consent to release the trust information and materials requested by the defendant.
Trust claim materials that are sufficient to entitle a claim for payment under the applicable trust governance documents may support a jury finding that the claimant was exposed to products for which the trust was established to provide compensation and that such exposure was a substantial contributing factor in causing the claimant's injury.
Any trust claim materials or trust governance documents may be introduced at trial to prove issues relevant to the adjudication of the asbestos claim, including alternative causation of the injury or that an entity is a joint-tortfeasor, unless otherwise excluded by the rules of evidence. The jury shall not be informed of the amount of consideration paid by a trust to a claimant to settle a claim.
If the claimant has asbestos trust claims that have not been resolved at the time of trial, there is a rebuttable presumption that the claimant will receive compensation specified in the applicable trust governance documents. If allowed by law, the defendant may be entitled to a setoff or credit in the amount the claimant has received from an asbestos trust. Any setoff or credit for an asbestos trust claim that has been resolved shall be the amount of actual payment received by the claimant after application of any payment percentages.
FILING OF ADDITIONAL ASBESTOS TRUST CLAIMS (Section 537.890)
After obtaining a judgment in an asbestos action, if a claimant files any additional asbestos trust claim with or submits any additional asbestos trust claim to an asbestos trust that was in existence at the time the claimant obtained the judgment, the trial court, upon the filing by the defendant or judgment debtor of an appropriate motion seeking sanctions or other relief, has jurisdiction to reopen the judgment in the asbestos action and adjust the judgment by the amount of any subsequent asbestos trust payments obtained by the claimant and order any other relief that the court considers just and proper.
COURT SANCTIONS (Section 537.882.3)
A court is permitted to impose sanctions for any willful failure by a claimant or claimant's counsel to comply with the requirements of this act, including dismissal of the action with prejudice.
This act is substantially similar to SS#2/SB 575 (2020) and is similar to HB 2139 (2020), SB 69 (2019), HB 216 (2019), provisions in SCS/SB 1102 (2018), HCS/HB 1645 (2018), HB 333 (2017), and SB 347 (2017).