Ohio is Set to Leave Double Dipping to George Castanza
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“Double dipping” isn’t just about George Castanza at the chip bowl during a party. By abusing the legal system, trial lawyers have been pulling off their own version of double dipping with asbestos lawsuits. The Wall Street Journal points out that:
plaintiffs attorneys have taken to "double dipping"—first gaining payouts from multiple bankruptcy trusts, then filing lawsuits against solvent companies that had only a peripheral involvement in the asbestos business. This scam continues because of a lack of transparency in the trust system, and a failure of communication between courts and the trusts.
According to the editorial, Ohio is about to fix this:
The Ohio legislature is trying to end this racket by requiring asbestos plaintiffs to file any trust claims before proceeding to trial. They must then identify to the courts any claims to trusts they have made, including the basis of their alleged injury.
Lisa Rickard, President of the Institute for Legal Reform, applauds the bill that is now waiting Governor John Kasich’s signature:
This is an enormous development as Ohio will be the first state to pass an asbestos bankruptcy trust law. ‘As Ohio goes, so goes the nation,’ and we hope this will result in a domino effect with other states passing legislation to ensure that the tort and trust systems work together fairly to compensate asbestos victims.
This bill, HB 380, will go a long way toward eliminating fraud in asbestos litigation, discourage ‘double dipping’ by plaintiffs’ lawyers, and ensure that companies and bankruptcy trusts both pay their fair share of recoveries to claimants. It will also help Ohio manufacturing companies and protect jobs by ensuring that companies are not bankrupted by fraudulent claims.
At least George only committed a breach of etiquette and didn’t unfairly hurt any companies. Ohio’s effort is a good step in taming this form of lawsuit abuse.