State level legal reform bills are unlikely to be introducedthis year and defense costs for mass litigation will continuerising, a government affairs expert is predicting.

|

The forecast comes from Joanne McMahon, assistant generalcounsel for government relations with GE Insurance Solutions inKansas City, Mo.

|

Ms. McMahon in a paper analyzing legal reform efforts saidlegislation this year in legislatures rather than targeting broadreform will focus on individual litigation issues such as medicalmalpractice, notably in Kentucky, New Jersey and New Hampshire.

|

Legislators in Alabama, California, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri,Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia will takeaim at asbestos and silica injury litigation, she said.

|

Joint several liability is the issue in Florida and WestVirginia, said Ms. McMahon. Venue for lawsuits is a measure fordiscussion in Illinois, and caps on noneconomic and punitivedamages is coming up in South Carolina.

|

She noted that last year Congress passed legislation restrictingclass action litigation, providing a partial shield for gunmanufacturers, and a measure prohibiting lawsuits againstmanufacturers of a drug that would cure or reduce risk of a diseasethat presents a public health emergency.

|

This will be an election year for most states and for manyfederal congressional members, Ms. McMahon noted, saying politicswill affect legislative activity at state and federal levels.

|

The asbestos injury claims legislation that is under debate thisweek in the Senate will likely be the most significant legal reformmeasure pursued in Congress this year, she commented.

|

Ms. McMahon predicted that bills aimed at curbing lawsuit abuseand shielding the food industry from obesity litigation will alsobe pursued at the federal level.

|

She said the cost of defending against suits such as thoseagainst food and beverage manufacturers for causing childhoodobesity continues to rise.

|

"The wheels of the mass litigation machine are constantly inmotion, devising new theories of liability," she warned.

Want to continue reading?
Become a Free PropertyCasualty360 Digital Reader

  • All PropertyCasualty360.com news coverage, best practices, and in-depth analysis.
  • Educational webcasts, resources from industry leaders, and informative newsletters.
  • Other award-winning websites including BenefitsPRO.com and ThinkAdvisor.com.
NOT FOR REPRINT

© 2024 ALM Global, LLC, All Rights Reserved. Request academic re-use from www.copyright.com. All other uses, submit a request to [email protected]. For more information visit Asset & Logo Licensing.