Rep. André Jacque (R-DePere) and Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend) recently introduced SB 13/AB 19, which provides transparency and prevents fraud in lawsuits involving personal injury trusts by creating certain discovery requirements during litigation.
Numerous types of personal injury trusts have been created under the federal bankruptcy code and state laws to ensure that injured people can be properly compensated. The largest number of personal injury trusts are related to asbestos exposures. More than 60 bankrupt companies have created such trusts to compensate present and future asbestos claimants for alleged injuries. Nearly all of the companies most responsible for asbestos injuries – the miners and manufacturers of asbestos – have established such trusts. Many of the companies being sued today had only peripheral involvement in the asbestos business.
In some instances, plaintiffs who file (or could file) claims with these personal injury trusts may also seek compensation for their injuries through a second channel – lawsuits against solvent defendants (i.e., businesses) in the courts. The ability of plaintiffs to seek multiple recoveries – without any transparency regarding these multiple recoveries – is what this bill addresses.
By filing their personal injury trust claims after their lawsuits have concluded and otherwise hindering access to the exposure information presented to trusts, the plaintiffs’ bar is denying businesses an opportunity to fully and fairly defend themselves. Equally problematic is that the double-dipping by plaintiffs and their lawyers is unfair to other personal injury victims, denying them money they may be owed.
A similar law passed late last year in Ohio, as discussed in this Wall Street Journal editorial.
For more information about SB 13/AB 19, click here.