Attempts to Repeal Asbestos Trust Reforms Die in Committee

Assembly Bill 862, authored by Rep. Dana Wachs (D-Eau Claire), and Senate Bill 723, authored by Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma), would have reversed a major liability reform priority from last session relating to fraud in asbestos lawsuits involving personal injury trusts.

On March 27, 2014, Gov. Scott Walker signed 2013 AB 19 into law as 2013 Wisconsin Act 154. The act provides for greater transparency by:

  • Requiring asbestos plaintiffs to disclose any and all claims that they have filed or will file with asbestos trust funds, along with all of the documents and information that support the trust claims.
  • Requiring judges to admit trust claims and supporting materials into evidence at trial; prohibiting plaintiffs from spuriously alleging that trust claims and their supporting documents are privileged.
  • Providing defendants with a powerful tool to ensure that plaintiffs file and disclose all possible claims with asbestos trusts. Act 154 authorizes defendants to identify trust claims that the plaintiff could and should file. If a judge agrees, the case is stayed until that claim is filed and disclosed.

For more information on this issue go to the Wisconsin Civil Justice Council’s page on Limiting Double-Dipping in Personal Injury Cases.