Governor Quinn gave a "big Christmas gift for the plaintiffs' bar" according to Travis Akin, executive director of Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch. Quinn signed into law a bill that exempts construction-related asbestos personal injury claims from Illinois' ten-year statute of repose.
The measure, approved by lawmakers during the fall veto session, removes a 10-yeartime limit for filing legal action related to the exposure to the cancer-causing substance. The Illinois construction statute of repose provides that no recovery can be maintained for injuries allegedly due to acts or omissions in the design, planning supervision, observation or management of construction, or construction of an improvement to real property, unless such action is brought within 10 years from the time of the act or omission.
Although the application of the construction statute of repose to asbestos cases has varied around the State, the statute has been a significant weapon for contactors and certain other defendants in Illinois asbestos litigation.
Supporters said limiting the time to file was unfair to victims because diseases linked to asbestos like mesothelioma can sometimes take 20 years to develop. “The deadly diseases caused by asbestos exposure know no statute of limitations, so it’s fitting that our law is finally catching up to medical realities,” said state Sen. Kwame Raoul, D-Chicago, the measure’s Senate sponsor.
The bill was opposed by pro-business groups, which argued that the bill only further reinforced Illinois' reputation for having an abusive legal climate and said the bill could hurt economic growth in Illinois as companies may stay out of the state because of liability concerns.
The bill will go into effect on June 1, 2015. It remains to be seen how it will be applied by courts.