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Nov. 24, 2017
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Minutes for SB73 - Committee on Judiciary

Short Title

Enacting the asbestos bankruptcy trust claims transparency act; providing for disclosures regarding asbestos bankruptcy trust claims in civil asbestos actions.

Minutes Content for Thu, Feb 2, 2017

Jason gave a brief on SB 73, which enacts the asbestos bankruptcy trust claims transparency act, providing for disclosures regarding asbestos bankruptcy trust claims in civil asbestos actions. He than explained various sections of the bill and what is enacted within.

Proponents:

Eric Stafford spoke in support of SB 73 (Attachment 1) saying that it strengthens the business community, encouraged passage of this legislation, and then deferred to Mark Behrens.

Mark Behrens also showed support (Attachment 2) for SB 73 saying that this bill is about having fully informed juries.  He went on to explain that plaintiffs can manipulate the timing of when they file. They can essentially be paid twice for the exact same injury.  Mr. Behrens went on to say that the juries in tort cases can be misled as to the plaintiffs exposures. In addition, he said there have been studies that show widespread suppression of evidence in tort asbestos cases. He continued saying that the average plaintiff is filing 20 claims and receiving half a million dollars. He concluded saying that all this bill does is change the dates in which a claim is filed, this law has passed in 8 states, and because of laws like this one, we have seen veterans get paid more quickly.

Chairman Wilborn referred to the three written proponents, asking the Committee to review the testimony from Marlee Carpenter (Attachment 3), Mark Johnston (Attachment 4), and Roger Woods (Attachment 5).  The Chairman then opened a question and answer period, during which the subjects covered included the number of incidents in the state, delays in receiving payments, and the process of claims.

Opponents:

Callie Denton shared her opposition (Attachment 6) to SB 73 saying it slows down civil procedure. She claimed that the discovery process is important, which this bill would eliminate or stunt. She said that it is an individual's right to pursue reconciliation on injuries that were perpetrated by companies, and there is no 'double dipping' as indicated by one of the proponents. She also indicated that the amount of time that is needed to submit a claim is important, and passing this bill would be unfair to those that are suffering from this type of injury.

Questions and answers dealing with caps on claims paid to plaintiffs, negligence of companies, and the ability of plaintiffs to file multiple claims on one incident were addressed.  Chairman Wilborn then asked the Committee to view the written opponents testimony from Robert Callahan (Attachment 7), Andrew Schermerhorn (Attachment 8), and Andy Sanchez (Attachment 9).

Chairman Wilborn asked for more questions and, seeing none, he closed the hearing on the bill and moved on to the next order of business.