The Michigan House passed a bill along party lines last week that would change how state courts deal with asbestos-related cancer cases.
Supporters of the Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Claims Transparency Act would prevent “double-dipping” among some plaintiffs. Currently, victims of asbestos exposure can file claims in state courts against solvent asbestos companies, and an asbestos bankruptcy trust for insolvent companies.
But critics say the bill is written by the asbestos industry, and pushed in states across the country. They claim it would allow asbestos company defendants to request 60-day stays and delay trials for those cases almost indefinitely, so long as the defendants think the plaintiffs could file additional bankruptcy trust claims.
The bill passed the Michigan House last week by a 58-51 vote, with almost exclusively Republican support.
Democrats denounced the bill as boilerplate, industry-sponsored legislation that favors corporations over cancer victims.
State Rep. Yousef Rabhi, D-Ann Arbor, called it “a sad and shameful day for our state.”
“Some of those who are most impacted by asbestos exposure are our firefighters, construction workers, veterans, police and first responders,” Rabhi said. “Putting corporate donors above our first responders, construction workers and veterans is despicable.”