For far too long, bad acting plaintiff attorneys have taken advantage of vulnerabilities in North Carolina’s legal system when filing bankruptcy trust claims. In an effort to manipulate damages, plaintiff attorneys have flagrantly exploited the state’s legal system through unethical legal practices including hiding evidence of exposure and “double dipping” damages. This egregious abuse must end and it is incumbent upon our legislative leaders to take action now.
While the North Carolina Senate has already passed Senate Bill 470: Personal Injury Bankruptcy Trust Claims in order to stop this abuse, the House has yet to take action on the legislation. The state House has delayed long enough and it is now time for legislators to pass this bill. By amending Rule 26 of North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedures regarding civil discovery in asbestos personal injury cases, this bill will establish transparency and fairness in North Carolina’s costly civil liability and bankruptcy trust system. As this legislation would require trust claims be filed prior to trial instead of after, juries would be able to consider all evidence of claimed asbestos exposures in suit proceedings – a critical component to conducting a fair trial. Additionally, the bill will benefit plaintiffs as the receipt of trust payments will be expedited due to accelerated claim filings. It’s clear passing this legislation is a no-brainer.
North Carolina will not be able to compete in the modern global economy without a healthy legal climate. North Carolina’s legal climate has become increasingly more competitive in recent years but in order to continue strengthening the state’s legal system, we must stop bad actors from unethically gaming the system. SB 470 will institute pivotal reforms that will foster greater predictability and transparency in legal affairs, ultimately reinforcing the state’s legal system. It is time for the NC House to pass SB 470.
Gary J. Salamido
Vice President, Government Affairs
North Carolina Chamber