ILLINOIS – In 2015, the Illinois Supreme Court held in Folta v. Ferro Engineering, 43 N.E. 3d 108 (2015), that the state’s Workers’ Compensation Act and Workers’ Occupational Disease Act was the exclusive remedy for state employees who contract mesothelioma, or another latent disease or injury. May 2019 in enacting Illinois SB 1596, the Illinois legislature revoked the Illinois Supreme Court’s ruling and amended the state’s Workers’ Compensation Act and Workers’ Occupational Disease Act to permit civil tort actions by employees against their employers for injuries that manifest more than 25 years after an occupational exposure.
Under the new version of the act, workers who developed similar injuries within the 25 year period would remain in the workers’ compensation system – a seemingly arbitrary result. The new act may also have the effect of eliminating insurance coverage for employee mesothelioma or lung cancer claims that would have been covered under workers’ compensation policies, but that would be excluded under standard general liability policies.