Wis. lawmaker defends asbestos lawsuit changes

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A northeastern Wisconsin lawmaker says his plan to delay asbestos lawsuits will clarify defendant companies' share of liability.

Rep. Andre Jacque's bill would force judges to stay civil lawsuits seeking damages from companies responsible for causing asbestos-related diseases until the plaintiffs disclose whether they're pursuing claims against now-bankrupt companies that also may have been at fault.

Opponents contend the bill is designed to slow down lawsuits in the hopes plaintiffs will die from their ailments before the litigation can be completed.

Jacque, a De Pere Republican, told the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Thursday the bill would help judges and jurors better understand how multiple defendants may have caused a plaintiff's ailments, ensuring defendants pay their fair share. He called opponents' claims "sickening accusations."

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