FL Senate Approves Bill Requiring Form for Asbestos Lawsuits

Legislation & Litigation

The Florida Senate voted to approve Republican Senator Travis Hutson’s proposed SB 720 requiring courts to dismiss asbestos claims without a completed information form. The bill’s next stop is the Florida House of Representatives.

If the House approves the measure, it would then go before the governor. If signed into law, those with asbestos-related diseases will have to provide more extensive information when filing a lawsuit.

SB 720 has the backing of businesses. Lobbying groups including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Insurance Council also support the measure. 

However, veterans groups and advocates for mesothelioma survivors and their families have raised concerns about what they see as a problematic procedural hurdle. They note this will make it more challenging to seek justice and compensation for medical expenses. 

Amending the Asbestos and Silica Compensation Act

Hutson’s measure is an amendment to the 2005 Asbestos and Silica Compensation Act. SB 270 requires claimants to complete a form with details about their smoking history and witnesses to their silica or asbestos exposure.

Additionally, the name, address, date of birth and marital status of witnesses who will testify about the plaintiff’s exposure must be included. SB 270 would apply to all asbestos and silica claims filed in Florida on or after July 1, 2024.

Republican Representative Robert Brackett proposed a similar bill in the Florida House of Representatives. HB 1367 is on hold, but is expected to be heard soon. 

The house measure would require all plaintiffs to include a written report of their exposure, noting a specific type of asbestos or silica product responsible. If approved, this bill would also take effect on July 1, 2024. 

Legal experts familiar with asbestos lawsuits suggest the push for these bills underscore the importance of working with an experienced mesothelioma lawyer. Familiarity with state laws and the complexities of compiling documentation is critical in navigating the legislative and litigation landscape.

Dangers of Asbestos and Silica

Asbestos is a mineral made of microscopic fibers. These fibers can be inhaled or ingested, becoming trapped in the lungs and causing inflammation, scarring or cancer. 

Asbestos exposure is the primary cause of mesothelioma. It’s also associated with laryngeal cancer, lung cancer and ovarian cancer.

Asbestos was widely used in asbestos products including construction materials, brakes and gaskets through the 1980s. The mineral was valued for its ability to handle extreme heat. 

Silica dust is also considered toxic and if inhaled. Exposure often occurs when workers cut or install quartz countertops.

Breathing in silica dust can cause silicosis. The disease includes fatigue, persistent cough and shortness of breath.

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