While a national asbestos trust to compensate victims is a positive development in this long-running litigation, it is premature and highly optimistic to think that a federal solution will be found this year.
Unions, insurers and trial lawyers are far apart in negotiations. There is no agreement on how much will fund the trust, who will pay, what criteria will be used to compensate victims or whether a federal trust will pre-empt state law.
With so many federal issues unsettled, Texas lawmakers should keep their foot to the pedal and fix the state's asbestos lawsuit dilemma.
Ten years ago, Texas lawmakers debated a bill that would limit the importation of out-of-state lawsuits. With a federal remedy expected at the time, state legislators carved out an exception for asbestos cases. A federal fix was never found. A decade later, Texas is again considering reform of asbestos liability laws, as this problem grows ever worse. And while a federal solution is being considered, it may not completely address the problem. As former baseball star and noted linguist Yogi Berra once said, "It's déjà vu all over again."
Peter M. Way,
Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse,