A controversial bill extending the statute of limitations for filing claims related to asbestos exposure has passed the General Assembly. The controversial measure passed by lawmakers would indefinitely extend liability for injuries, disease, disability, or death associated with asbestos exposure in construction cases. The disease most commonly associated with asbestos exposure is mesothelioma.
Senate Bill 2221 drew criticism for creating a wide-open avenue for litigation, allowing for claims that go back 50 years. Concerns were also raised the bill could create unlimited liability into the future.
The bill does not contain language specifying whether or not this change would apply to pending cases. Nor does the legislation make it clear whether closed cases could be reopened or new cases could be filed, in situations where the statute of limitations has expired, but there is a newly discovered injury.
Proponents, including the Illinois Trial Lawyers Association, argued that the legislation was necessary because asbestos-related mesothelioma does not manifest for at least 10 years. They say that the time it takes the disease to manifest limits the ability of those affected to file a lawsuit.