Pending Texas Legislation Would Reverse Asbestos Litigation Standards


AUSTIN, TX—A Washington D.C. attorney who spoke in Austin recently reported that two bills pending in the Texas legislature could open the litigation floodgates to mesothelioma plaintiffs who had only a minimum amount of exposure to asbestos.

The Senate Bill 1123, introduced by Republican Senator Robert Duncan of Lubbock, and House Bill 1811, introduced by Democrat Representative Craig Eiland of Texas City, would overturn a previous important decision by the Texas Supreme Court regarding asbestos exposure in mesothelioma cases by significantly lowering the standards for providing causation in litigation.

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer which is almost always caused by previous exposure to asbestos, which is a type of fiber present in many insulating and building substances. Mesothelioma may not manifest until anywhere between 20 to 50 years after an asbestos exposure.

The attorney said the bill is poorly timed, since employers and small businesses are facing difficult economic challenges.

Behrens, a partner in the Public Policy Group of Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP in Washington, D.C., believes that this legislation is not needed to provide compensation to deserving claimants and that the bill does not reflect sound scientific or legal principles.

HB 1811 would overturn the 2007 Texas Supreme Court decision, Borg-Warner Corp. v. Flores, which required plaintiffs to prove exposure to the defendant’s product in addition to proving that the dose was a substantial factor in causing the mesothelioma.

Behrens also said that some courts stretched the concept so far that virtually any exposure, regardless of the degree of frequency, sufficed.

The Texans for Lawsuit Reform made a statement that the two bills are being pushed by “a few dozen trial lawyers who advertise for mesothelioma claimants and represent them in litigation.”


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