Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Asbestos Bundling Prohibition Retained In Michigan

The Michigan Supreme Court recently decided to retain an administrative order entered last year that prohibits the "bundling" of asbestos-related cases for settlement or trial. The "purpose of the order is to ensure that cases filed by plaintiffs who exhibit physical symptoms as a result of exposure to asbestos are settled and tried on the merits of that case alone". Dissenters from the original order were highly critical of this approach to asbestos litigation: "This haste [to adopt the order] without sufficient information, is unrestrained and unwise." (Justice Weaver) "[The order] makes a mockery of due process...It virtually ensures that justice will be so delayed for many diseased plaintiffs that they will never live to see their cases resolved." [Justice Kelly].

In its order retaining the provision, Justice Corrigan states that, notwithstanding the above dire predictions, the order "has not caused the sky to fall." Justice Kelly responds: "Since this order was entered, we have received no indication that [its] objective has been even minimally attained." Rather, cases continue to be bundled for settlement,  but without the benefit of court assistance. (Mike Frisch)


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