Democrats oppose bill affecting asbestos lawsuits

Bill heads to Senate after passing Assembly 58-39

The state Assembly has passed a bill opponents said would slow asbestos-exposure lawsuits.

The measure passed Wednesday would require plaintiffs to reveal how many businesses their attorneys plan to go after. Republican supporters said such a move would prevent lawyers from hiding multiple claims in hopes of maximizing awards.

But opponents, including trial attorneys, said the measure is designed to slow cases down in the hopes plaintiffs will die and protect corporations from making payouts.

Rep. Andre Jacque, of De Pere, said his proposal would inject transparency into asbestos claims.

He said the bill would help judges and jurors see how many defendants may be at fault for one person’s illness, ensuring they divvy up damages fairly.

The bill passed on a 58-39 vote. It now heads to the Senate.