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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

 3:59 PM 

Assembly passes bill on personal injury trusts

The Assembly voted 58-39 to pass legislation that would set new standards for those seeking compensation from personal injury trusts.

Dems sought unsuccessfully to exempt veterans from the legislation, saying the bill would make it harder to collect on a claim for their injuries, particularly mesothelioma due to exposure to asbestos.

“You either are going to show your support for the men and women in uniform and exclude them from the harmful impacts of this bill or you’re not,” said Minority Leader Peter Barca, D-Kenosha. “I implore you. Stand up for veterans.”

GOP Rep. Tom Weatherston rejected the argument, saying nothing offends him more than those who have never picked up a rifle to defend the country trying to speak on behalf of veterans like him. He said Dems were trying to confuse the true the intent of the bill, which is tort reform.

The legislation would affect trusts that are set up by companies to pay claims after they go bankrupt. They are often used by non-defunct asbestos manufacturers, and critics say it would make it harder for those victims to claim damages. Backers counter the legislation would help prevent fraud by preventing double dipping.

The bill would require anyone suing a Wisconsin company to first disclose if they’ve received payments from any personal injury trust.

Rep. John Spiros, R-Marshfield, called it a fair bill.

“I’m on this bill, and I’m a veteran,” Spiros said.


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