Bill Proposed in Pennsylvania House Seeks to Add Fairness and Transparency to Asbestos Actions
On June 30, 2015, Rep. Warren Kampf introduced a bill in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives titled as the “Fairness in Claims and Transparency (FaCT) Act.”
The purposes are listed as providing transparency of claims made against bankruptcy trusts and in the tort system, to facilitate fair and appropriate compensation to plaintiffs while rationally allocating responsibility, to preserve the resources of defendants involved to help promote adequate recoveries for deserving plaintiffs, and to ensure that liabilities properly borne by bankruptcy trusts are not imposed upon defendants in the tort system.
Section 4 primarily establishes the apportionment of responsibility, stating that an apportionment nonparty shall be apportioned responsibility, for liability purposes, in an asbestos action. According to this section, a defendant in an asbestos action may, at any time, move to designate an asbestos trust as an apportionment party. The section concludes by establishing settlement credits.
Section 5 primarily deals with the disclosure of information from asbestos trusts, establishing that not later than 90 days prior to trial of an asbestos action, or at another time ordered by the court, whichever is earlier, a plaintiff shall file with the court and serve on all parties a statement listing all existing or potential claims the plaintiff has filed or has a reasonable basis to file against any asbestos trust and a statement listing all payments or funds the plaintiff has received or reasonably believes the plaintiff may be entitled to receive from each asbestos trust.
In addition, Section 5 establishes that when the plaintiff files and serves the statement, the plaintiff shall serve on all parties to the asbestos action copies of the plaintiff’s submissions to and communications with each asbestos trust identified. The plaintiff shall also have a continuing duty, until final resolution of the action to supplement the statement. A defendant in an asbestos action may seek discovery from an asbestos trust identified by the plaintiff in the plaintiff’s statement, as supplemented. Finally, under Section 5, failure by the plaintiff to comply with the disclosure and discovery requirements shall be a basis for the imposition of sanctions.