Asbestos Trust Transparency: H.B. 5456 (2018)
Enacts the “Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Claims Transparency Act. Requires a
Enacts the “Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Claims Transparency Act. Requires a plaintiff, at least 180 days before the initial date set for the trial in an asbestos action, to give the court and all parties a sworn statement that an investigation had been conducted and all asbestos trust claims that the plaintiff could make had been completed and filed. Requires the plaintiff to provide all parties with all trust claims materials (a final executed proof of claim and all other documents related to a claim against an asbestos trust). Provides that the plaintiff would have a continuing duty to supplement the information and materials. Requires the defendant, at least 60 days before trial, to confer with the plaintiff if the defendant believed that the plaintiff had not filed all asbestos trust claims. Permits the defendant, after conferring with the plaintiff, to seek a court order requiring the plaintiff to file additional trust claims. Requires the defendant’s motion to identify the asbestos trust claims that the defendant believed the plaintiff could file and require the defendant to produce information in support of the motion. Require the plaintiff, within 10 days of receiving the motion, to file: (1) an asbestos trust claim; (2) a response stating why there was insufficient evidence to file the claim; or (3) a response requesting a determination that the cost to file exceeded the reasonably anticipated recovery. Requires the court to stay the action until the plaintiff filed the trust claim if the court determined that there was sufficient basis for the plaintiff to do so. Requires the court to stay the action until the plaintiff filed a statement regarding exposure to and use of asbestos, if the court determined that the cost of submitting a trust claim exceeded the plaintiff’s reasonably anticipated recovery. Provides that the court could not schedule the action for trial sooner than 60 days after the plaintiff complied with these requirements. Permits a defendant to seek discovery from an asbestos trust, and provide that the plaintiff could not claim confidentiality or privilege to bar discovery. States that trust materials could be used to prove an alternative source for the cause of the plaintiff’s alleged harm and could serve as a basis to allocate responsibility for the harm. Provides that if a plaintiff filed an additional asbestos trust claim after obtaining a judgment in an asbestos action, and if the trust existed at the time of the judgment, the court could reopen and adjust the judgment by the amount of subsequent payments the plaintiff obtained and order other relief.
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