Michigan state lawmakers recently passed legislation that could severely restrict access to justice for mesothelioma cancer victims seeking their day in court to recover vital compensation and hold asbestos companies responsible for their dangerous products. The 58-51 vote, along party lines, passed the Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Claims Transparency Act as a means to prevent so-called “double dipping” by plaintiffs seeking to recover the compensation they need to pay for medical bills and lost wages.
In some states, mesothelioma cancer victims have the option to file administrative claims with asbestos bankruptcy trusts set up by companies wthat sought federal bankruptcy protections but still needed to fund settlements for future liabilities. Michigan is one of numerous states that recently passed similar legislation forcing plaintiffs in civil lawsuits against solvent parties to disclose whether or not they have filed claims with any asbestos bankruptcy trusts.
Unfortunately for plaintiffs, the law also has another built-in component designed to deny and delay otherwise meritorious claims Under the bill, if the defendant in an asbestos action identified an asbestos trust claim not previously identified that the defendant thinks the plaintiff could file, the defendant could request a stay of the proceeding.