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2010 Florida Statutes

F.S. 774.204
774.204 Physical impairment.
(1) Physical impairment of the exposed person, to which asbestos or silica exposure was a substantial contributing factor, is an essential element of an asbestos or silica claim.
(2) A person may not file or maintain a civil action alleging a nonmalignant asbestos claim in the absence of a prima facie showing of physical impairment as a result of a medical condition to which exposure to asbestos was a substantial contributing factor. The prima facie showing must include all of the following requirements:
(a) Evidence verifying that a qualified physician, or someone working under the direct supervision and control of a qualified physician, has taken a detailed occupational and exposure history of the exposed person or, if the person is deceased, from a person who is knowledgeable about the exposures that form the basis of the nonmalignant asbestos claim, including:
1. Identification of all of the exposed person’s principal places of employment and exposures to airborne contaminants; and
2. Whether each place of employment involved exposures to airborne contaminants, including but not limited to asbestos fibers or other disease-causing dusts, that can cause pulmonary impairment and the nature, duration, and level of any such exposure.
(b) Evidence verifying that a qualified physician, or someone working under the direct supervision and control of a qualified physician, has taken a detailed medical and smoking history, including a thorough review of the exposed person’s past and present medical problems and their most probable cause.
(c) Evidence sufficient to demonstrate that at least 10 years have elapsed between the date of first exposure to asbestos and the date the diagnosis is made.
(d) A determination by a qualified physician, on the basis of a medical examination and pulmonary function testing, that the exposed person has a permanent respiratory impairment rating of at least Class 2 as defined by and evaluated pursuant to the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment.
(e) A diagnosis by a qualified physician of asbestosis or diffuse pleural thickening, based at a minimum on radiological or pathological evidence of asbestosis or radiological evidence of diffuse pleural thickening.
(f) A determination by a qualified physician that asbestosis or diffuse pleural thickening, rather than chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, is a substantial contributing factor to the exposed person’s physical impairment, based at a minimum on a determination that the exposed person has:
1. Total lung capacity, by plethysmography or timed gas dilution, below the predicted lower limit of normal;
2. Forced vital capacity below the lower limit of normal and a ratio of FEV1 to FVC that is equal to or greater than the predicted lower limit of normal; or
3. A chest X ray showing small, irregular opacities (s, t, u) graded by a certified B-reader as at least 2/1 on the ILO scale.
(g) If the exposed person meets the requirements of paragraphs (a), (b), and (c), and if a qualified physician determines that the exposed person has a physical impairment, as demonstrated by meeting the criteria set forth in paragraph (d) and subparagraph (f)1. or subparagraph (f)2., but the exposed person’s chest X ray does not demonstrate radiological evidence of asbestosis, the exposed person may meet the criteria of paragraph (e) if his or her chest X ray is graded by a certified B-reader as at least 1/0 and a qualified physician, relying on high-resolution computed tomography, determines to a reasonable degree of medical certainty that the exposed person has asbestosis and forms the conclusion set forth in paragraph (h).
(h) A conclusion by a qualified physician that the exposed person’s medical findings and impairment were not more probably the result of causes other than the asbestos exposure revealed by the exposed person’s employment and medical history. A diagnosis that states that the medical findings and impairment are “consistent with” or “compatible with” exposure to asbestos does not meet the requirements of this subsection.
(i) If a plaintiff files a civil action alleging a nonmalignant asbestos claim, and that plaintiff alleges that his or her exposure to asbestos was the result of extended contact with another exposed person who, if the civil action had been filed by the other exposed person, would have met the requirements of paragraph (a), and the plaintiff alleges that he or she had extended contact with the exposed person during the time period in which that exposed person met the requirements of paragraph (a), the plaintiff has satisfied the requirements of paragraph (a). The plaintiff in such a civil action must individually satisfy the requirements of paragraphs (b), (c), (d), (e), (f), (g), and (h).
(3) A person who is a smoker may not file or maintain a civil action alleging an asbestos claim which is based upon cancer of the lung, larynx, pharynx, or esophagus in the absence of a prima facie showing that includes all of the following requirements:
(a) A diagnosis by a qualified physician who is board certified in pathology, pulmonary medicine, or oncology, as appropriate for the type of cancer claimed, of a primary cancer of the lung, larynx, pharynx, or esophagus, and that exposure to asbestos was a substantial contributing factor to the condition.
(b) Evidence sufficient to demonstrate that at least 10 years have elapsed between the date of first exposure to asbestos and the date of diagnosis of the cancer.
(c) Radiological or pathological evidence of asbestosis or diffuse pleural thickening or a qualified physician’s diagnosis of asbestosis based on a chest X ray graded by a certified B-reader as at least 1/0 on the ILO scale and high-resolution computed tomography supporting the diagnosis of asbestosis to a reasonable degree of medical certainty.
(d) Evidence of the exposed person’s substantial occupational exposure to asbestos. If a plaintiff files a civil action alleging an asbestos-related claim based on cancer of the lung, larynx, pharynx, or esophagus, and that plaintiff alleges that his or her exposure to asbestos was the result of extended contact with another exposed person who, if the civil action had been filed by the other exposed person, would have met the substantial occupational exposure requirement of this subsection, and the plaintiff alleges that he or she had extended contact with the exposed person during the time period in which that exposed person met the substantial occupational exposure requirement of this subsection, the plaintiff has satisfied the requirements of this paragraph. The plaintiff in such a civil action must individually satisfy the requirements of this subsection.
(e) If the exposed person is deceased, the qualified physician, or someone working under the direct supervision and control of a qualified physician, may obtain the evidence required in paragraphs (b) and (d) from the person most knowledgeable about the alleged exposures that form the basis of the asbestos claim.
(f) A conclusion by a qualified physician that the exposed person’s medical findings and impairment were not more probably the result of causes other than the asbestos exposure revealed by the exposed person’s employment and medical history. A conclusion that the medical findings and impairment are “consistent with” or “compatible with” exposure to asbestos does not meet the requirements of this subsection.
(4) In a civil action alleging an asbestos claim by a nonsmoker based on cancer of the lung, larynx, pharynx, or esophagus, a prima facie showing of an impairment due to asbestos exposure is not required.
(5) A person may not file or maintain a civil action alleging an asbestos claim which is based on cancer of the colon, rectum, or stomach in the absence of a prima facie showing that includes all of the following requirements:
(a) A diagnosis by a qualified physician who is board certified in pathology, pulmonary medicine, or oncology, as appropriate for the type of cancer claimed, of cancer of the colon, rectum, or stomach, and that exposure to asbestos was a substantial contributing factor to the condition.
(b) Evidence sufficient to demonstrate that at least 10 years have elapsed between the date of first exposure to asbestos and the date of diagnosis of the cancer.
(c)1.a. Radiological or pathological evidence of asbestosis or diffuse pleural thickening or a qualified physician’s diagnosis of asbestosis based on a chest X ray graded by a certified B-reader as at least 1/0 on the ILO scale and high-resolution computed tomography supporting the diagnosis of asbestosis to a reasonable degree of medical certainty; or
b. Evidence of the exposed person’s substantial occupational exposure to asbestos. If a plaintiff files a civil action alleging an asbestos-related claim based on cancer of the colon, rectum, or stomach, and that plaintiff alleges that his or her exposure to asbestos was the result of extended contact with another exposed person who, if the civil action had been filed by the other exposed person, would have met the substantial occupational exposure requirement of this subsection, and the plaintiff alleges that he or she had extended contact with the exposed person during the time period in which that exposed person met the substantial occupational exposure requirement of this subsection, the plaintiff has satisfied the requirements of this sub-subparagraph. The plaintiff in such a civil action must individually satisfy the requirements of this subsection.
2. In the case of an exposed person who is a smoker, the criteria in sub-subparagraph 1.a. and b. must be met.
3. If the exposed person is deceased, the qualified physician, or someone working under the direct supervision and control of a qualified physician, may obtain the evidence required in sub-subparagraph 1.b. and paragraph (b) from the person most knowledgeable about the alleged exposures that form the basis of the asbestos claim.
(d) A conclusion by a qualified physician that the exposed person’s medical findings and impairment were not more probably the result of causes other than the asbestos exposure revealed by the exposed person’s employment and medical history. A conclusion that the medical findings and impairment are “consistent with” or “compatible with” exposure to asbestos does not meet the requirements of this subsection.
(6) In a civil action alleging an asbestos claim based upon mesothelioma a prima facie showing of an impairment due to asbestos exposure is not required.
(7) A person may not file or maintain a civil action alleging a silicosis claim in the absence of a prima facie showing of physical impairment as a result of a medical condition to which exposure to silica was a substantial contributing factor. The prima facie showing must include all of the following requirements:
(a) Evidence verifying that a qualified physician, or someone working under the direct supervision and control of a qualified physician, has taken a detailed occupational and exposure history of the exposed person or, if the person is deceased, from a person who is knowledgeable about the exposures that form the basis of the nonmalignant silica claim, including:
1. All of the exposed person’s principal places of employment and exposures to airborne contaminants; and
2. Whether each place of employment involved exposures to airborne contaminants, including, but not limited to, silica particles or other disease-causing dusts, that can cause pulmonary impairment and the nature, duration, and level of any such exposure.
(b) Evidence verifying that a qualified physician, or someone working under the direct supervision and control of a qualified physician, has taken detailed medical and smoking history, including a thorough review of the exposed person’s past and present medical problems and their most probable cause, and verifying a sufficient latency period for the applicable stage of silicosis.
(c) A determination by a qualified physician, on the basis of a medical examination and pulmonary function testing, that the exposed person has a permanent respiratory impairment rating of at least Class 2 as defined by and evaluated pursuant to the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment.
(d) A determination by a qualified physician that the exposed person has:
1. A quality 1 chest X ray under the ILO System of classification and that the X ray has been read by a certified B-reader as showing, according to the ILO System of classification, bilateral nodular opacities (p, q, or r) occurring primarily in the upper lung fields, graded 1/1 or higher; or
2. Pathological demonstration of classic silicotic nodules exceeding one centimeter in diameter as published in 112 Archive of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine 7 (July 1988).

In a death case where no pathology is available, the necessary radiologic findings may be made with a quality 2 film if a quality 1 film is not available.

(e) A conclusion by a qualified physician that the exposed person’s medical findings and impairment were not more probably the result of causes other than silica exposure revealed by the exposed person’s employment and medical history. A conclusion that the medical findings and impairment are “consistent with” or “compatible with” exposure to silica does not meet the requirements of this subsection.
(8) A person may not file or maintain a civil action alleging a silica claim other than as provided in subsection (7), in the absence of a prima facie showing that includes all of the following requirements:
(a) A report by a qualified physician who is:
1. Board certified in pulmonary medicine, internal medicine, oncology, or pathology stating a diagnosis of the exposed person of silica-related lung cancer and stating that, to a reasonable degree of medical probability, exposure to silica was a substantial contributing factor to the diagnosed lung cancer; or
2. Board certified in pulmonary medicine, internal medicine, or pathology stating a diagnosis of the exposed person of silica-related progressive massive fibrosis or acute silicoproteinosis, or silicosis complicated by documented tuberculosis.
(b) Evidence verifying that a qualified physician, or someone working under the direct supervision and control of a qualified physician, has taken a detailed occupational and exposure history of the exposed person or, if the person is deceased, from a person who is knowledgeable about the exposures that form the basis of the nonmalignant silica claim, including:
1. All of the exposed person’s principal places of employment and exposures to airborne contaminants; and
2. Whether each place of employment involved exposures to airborne contaminants, including, but not limited to, silica particles or other disease-causing dusts, that can cause pulmonary impairment and the nature, duration, and level of any such exposure.
(c) Evidence verifying that a qualified physician, or someone working under the direct supervision and control of a qualified physician, has taken a detailed medical and smoking history, including a thorough review of the exposed person’s past and present medical problems and their most probable cause;
(d) A determination by a qualified physician that the exposed person has:
1. A quality 1 chest X ray under the ILO System of classification and that the X ray has been read by a certified B-reader as showing, according to the ILO System of classification, bilateral nodular opacities (p, q, or r) occurring primarily in the upper lung fields, graded 1/1 or higher; or
2. Pathological demonstration of classic silicotic nodules exceeding one centimeter in diameter as published in 112 Archive of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine 7 (July 1988).

In a death case where no pathology is available, the necessary radiologic findings may be made with a quality 2 film if a quality 1 film is not available.

(e) A conclusion by a qualified physician that the exposed person’s medical findings and impairment were not more probably the result of causes other than silica exposure revealed by the exposed person’s employment and medical history. A conclusion that the medical findings and impairment are “consistent with” or “compatible with” exposure to silica does not meet the requirements of this subsection.
(9) Evidence relating to physical impairment under this section, including pulmonary function testing and diffusing studies, must:
(a) Comply with the technical recommendations for examinations, testing procedures, quality assurance, quality control, and equipment of the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, as set forth in 20 C.F.R. part 404, Subpart P. App. 1. Part A, s. 3.00 E. and F., and the interpretive standards, set forth in the official statement of the American Thoracic Society entitled “lung function testing: selection of reference values and interpretive strategies” as published in American Review of Respiratory Disease. 1991: 144:1202-1218;
(b) Not be obtained through testing or examinations that violate any applicable law, regulation, licensing requirement, or medical code of practice; and
(c) Not be obtained under the condition that the exposed person retain legal services in exchange for the examination, test, or screening.
(10) Presentation of prima facie evidence meeting the requirements of subsection (2), subsection (3), subsection (5), or subsection (6) of this section may not:
(a) Result in any presumption at trial that the exposed person is impaired by an asbestos-related or silica-related condition;
(b) Be conclusive as to the liability of any defendant; and
(c) Be admissible at trial.
History.s. 4, ch. 2005-274; s. 106, ch. 2006-1.