Missouri Asbestos Litigation Reform: New Bill Seeks to Establish Robust Disclosure Obligations
St. Louis, Mo. (March 10, 2021) - Missouri State Senator Eric Burlison is reviving attempts to reform asbestos litigation in the State of Missouri through the introduction of SB 331. This bill was pre-filed on December 29, 2020 and first read on January 6, 2021. The bill establishes disclosure procedures for claimants in asbestos-related lawsuits. Specifically, the bill, if passed, would require claimants in civil asbestos-related lawsuits to file a sworn information form within 30 days of filing an asbestos-related lawsuit.
The required disclosures under SB 331 include, but are not limited to (1) each asbestos-containing product to which the exposed person was exposed and each physical location at which the exposure occurred; (2) the identity of the manufacturer or distributor of specific asbestos-containing products for each named exposure; (3) the specific location and manner of each exposure; (4) the beginning and end dates of each exposure, the frequency and length of each exposure, and the proximity of the asbestos-containing product or its use to the exposed person; and (5) a certification that any claim that can be made with a bankruptcy trust concerning any asbestos injury to the exposed person has been filed.
The stated purpose of SB 331 is to eliminate waste in the legal system caused by the over-naming of defendants in asbestos-related cases where there is no evidence of any exposure to a defendant’s asbestos-containing products and/or services. The secondary purpose, of course, is to eliminate significant defense costs associated with litigating claims where evidence is lacking against certain defendants who will likely be dismissed down the road for that very reason.
SB 331 is receiving opposition from the plaintiffs’ bar, due in large part to the thought that such disclosure requirements could delay relief sought by potentially very sick plaintiffs. A plaintiff’s attorney in St. Louis, Missouri argued that this bill would essentially cause plaintiffs to try their cases before a trial, given the nature and degree of disclosures and evidence sought within 30 days of filing a lawsuit in the State of Missouri.
For more information on this bill, contact the author or editor of this alert, or visit our Asbestos Litigation Practice page to find an attorney in your area.
Jennifer B. Pigeon, Partner
Jeffrey Bash, Managing Partner - Madison County, IL