A continuing problem in the mass tort world is the lack of efficient intersections between tort system claiming and claiming against bankruptcy or chapter 11 trusts created to pay claims through an administrative process. One key problem is that plaintiff's can delay claiming against trusts, thus thwarting the tort system rule against splitting claims. This problem - and others - are described in many posts on this blog (see category asbestos trusts), and in RAND's two reports on asbestos bankruptcy trusts. To reduce the problem, some states are considering legislation to require an efficient intersection by requiring tort system plaintiffs to move forward with and disclose bankruptcy trust claims early on in the course of pursuing a tort claim. That's an obviously sensible rule.
Some (not all) plaintiff's lawyers are opposed to rules requiring such an efficient intersection. In short, they are opposed to transparency in claiming, probably because the asbestos bankruptcy trust system is such a great cash generation machine for some (not all) claimants and plaintiff's firms. Baron and Budd is one of the firms opposed to transparency in trust claiming, as announced in the press release pasted below. Unfortunately, the bill was rejected and so transparency was blocked.
"DALLAS, May 30, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Last week, Baron and Budd shareholder Burton LeBlanc testified against a bill in the Louisiana Senate that threatened to curb the rights of asbestos victims. The bill would require plaintiffs in asbestos lawsuits to provide a complete list of potential bankrupt claims in the early stages of a lawsuit. Though the bill unanimously passed the House, it was defeated in the Senate in a 4-2 vote. The bill would have been the first legislation of its kind in the nation. LeBlanc was the only attorney who spoke against the bill.
HB 477 would require asbestos claimants to disclose a complete list of all bankruptcy submissions within 30 days of filing a lawsuit. According to LeBlanc, the bill is impractical, redundant and unnecessary.
"This is affirmatively imposing a duty on the plaintiff within 30 days of filing a lawsuit...the code of procedure already provides a remedy here, when the defendants ask for this information, we must provide it," said LeBlanc in his testimony before the Louisiana Senate. "Establishing law for a specific incident...is a bad way and bad public policy."
The issue appears to exist between the legal system and the bankruptcy trusts. Many former asbestos companies have filed for bankruptcy to prevent additional asbestos lawsuits and their remaining assets were placed into trusts to pay out claims to mesothelioma patients. Since there is no communication between these two entities, proponents of the bill claim that this lack of transparency causes fraud in the system. LeBlanc disagrees.
"There is no single incident of fraud in Louisiana," said LeBlanc. "I commend the Senate for voting down this bill."
Baron and Budd has dedicated its practice to protecting the rights of mesothelioma patients for more than 30 years and was one of the first law firms to successfully handle a mesothelioma lawsuit. The firm continues to actively litigate asbestos lawsuits throughout the country and fight against asbestos legislation that would harm the rights of those injured by asbestos exposure.
The firm has been instrumental in the creation of various asbestos bankruptcy trusts, including the $4 billion Halliburton trust, the largest asbestos trust fund of its kind in the world. Baron and Budd has also helped negotiate a $3.9 billion settlement with United States Gypsum and a nearly $3 billion settlement with W.R. Grace to benefit future asbestos claimants.
Call us at 1.866.855.1229 to learn more. There is no cost or obligation for our review of your potential case.
About Baron & Budd, P.C.
The national mesothelioma law firm of Baron & Budd, P.C. has a more than 30-year history of "Protecting What's Right" for asbestos sufferers and their families. As one of the first law firms to successfully litigate an asbestos lawsuit, Baron & Budd continues to actively represent veterans, industry workers and others who are suffering as a result of exposure to asbestos. Baron & Budd achieved the largest mesothelioma verdict ever in the state of Texas, a $55 million verdict for an asbestos sufferer and his family in El Paso, Texas. Contact Baron and Budd at 1.866.855.1229 for additional information on mesothelioma treatments, mesothelioma cancer doctors and treatment centers and mesothelioma attorneys."
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SOURCE: Baron & Budd, P.C.