This week the Ohio Supreme Court, in a 6 to 1 decision, upheld Ohio’s asbestos personal injury litigation reforms. This is a major victory for business, consumers and the Ohio economy.
Earlier this decade, Ohio had become a haven for asbestos cases; some 40,000 cases clogged Ohio court dockets and threatened the survival of affected firms. By enacting House Bill 292 in 2004, the General Assembly passed much needed reforms.
The bill required claimants to demonstrate physical impairment, to show that occupational exposure to asbestos is the “predominate cause” of the impairment and to have a “competent medical authority” make the causal diagnosis. To win an asbestos claim, the claimant has to be sick and a doctor has to determine that the sickness was caused by asbestos. Common sense prevailed!
HB 292 applied the reforms retroactively to cases pending in the courts. The retroactive application was the constitutionality challenge in this case.
Special thanks and congratulations to Kurt Tunnell, Miranda Motter and Anne Marie Sferra of Bricker & Eckler on this victory. They led the legal effort that gained passage of the well-crafted bill, and acted as counsel in the amicus filing of the OMA and other business groups. Here is a Bricker bulletin on the case.