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Texas bill would toughen rules on asbestos and silica injury claimants

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A bill that would add required disclosures for claimants in asbestos or silica personal injury lawsuits, and allow defendants in these cases to stay proceedings and modify judgments under certain circumstances, has been approved by the Texas Senate and sent to Gov. Greg Abbott for approval.

HB 1492 would require claimants in an asbestos or silica personal injury lawsuit to provide notice of a claim made against an asbestos or silica trust. It would also require the claimant to provide documentation filed with the trust, among other provisions, according to a legislative analysis of the bill.

It would also allow defendants to list trusts not disclosed by the claimant against which it believes the claimant could make a successful claim, according to the analysis.

A similar bill was signed into law by West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin in March.

Mark A. Behrens, a partner with law firm Shook, Hard & Bacon L.L.P. said a similar law was also approved in Arizona earlier this year, and there have been earlier enactments in Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Ohio.

In general, these laws provide a mechanism to require plaintiffs to file their asbestos bankruptcy trust claims before trial, and to provide defendants with the claims forms and supporting documentation, Mr. Behrens said.