Senate bill forcing asbestos, silica claimants to divulge smoking history clears final committee

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Similar legislation is on the House calendar.

A Senate panel is advancing legislation that would put new restrictions on those seeking redress from defendants via 2005’s Asbestos and Silica Compensation Fairness Act.

Sen. Travis Hutson’s measure (SB 720) compels claimants to provide more information about their smoking history, along with info about people who can attest to the claimant’s exposure. If a second party is testifying to the claimant’s exposure, that person must also provide their name, address, date of birth and marital status.

“The bill adds additional facts related to exposure,” Hutson said. “And it allows a Judge to dismiss the case without prejudice if the information is insufficient to show the defendant should be a party to the case.”

Failure to offer specific documentation of these issues and other particulars of the alleged exposure would result in the dismissal of court actions after July 1, 2024, in the legislation advanced by the Senate Rules Committee.

The Florida Justice Reform Institute, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,  and the Florida Insurance Council all support the legislation.

The Florida Justice Association is opposed, meanwhile, with a representative saying the “unique claims” regarding mesothelioma diagnoses give people roughly a year or two to take action before they pass away, and delays are “very detrimental” to alleged victims seeking justice. They also noted that claimants who work in multiple locations must list them all in the current bill, leaving an opening for dismissal if they fail to do so.

Companion legislation (HB 1367) in the House is already on the Second Reading Calendar. The bills are similar, not identical, so some reconciliation will be necessary for this to become law.

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


3 comments

  • Dr. Franklin Waters

    February 21, 2024 at 2:30 pm

    But smoking isn’t that bad for you. That’s what Rush Limbaugh kept saying on his radio show for years before he died of lung cancer that I’m sure was totally unrelated to him being a smoker.
    Ron DeSantis even lowered the flags at half mast for him when he died, so I’m not sure why the mixed signals here?

  • MH/Duuuval

    February 21, 2024 at 5:31 pm

    I wish Sen. Hutson would show as much concern for flood insurance.

  • Tom Palmer

    February 21, 2024 at 10:55 pm

    That seems to be something that would show up in discovery anyway.

Comments are closed.


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