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2012 Florida Statutes

Chapter 774
ASBESTOS-RELATED AND SILICA-RELATED CLAIMS
CHAPTER 774
CHAPTER 774
ASBESTOS-RELATED AND SILICA-RELATED CLAIMS
ASBESTOS-RELATED CLAIMS
(ss. 774.001-774.008)
ASBESTOS AND SILICA COMPENSATION FAIRNESS ACT
(ss. 774.201-774.209)
ASBESTOS-RELATED CLAIMS
774.001 Legislative findings and intent.
774.002 Definitions.
774.003 Applicability.
774.004 Limitations on successor asbestos-related liabilities.
774.005 Establishing fair market value of total gross assets.
774.006 Adjustment.
774.007 Scope.
774.008 Severability.
774.001 Legislative findings and intent.The Legislature finds that the number of asbestos-related claims has increased significantly in recent years and threatens the continued viability of a number of uniquely situated companies that have not ever manufactured, sold, or distributed asbestos or asbestos products and are liable only as successor corporations. This liability has created an overpowering public necessity to provide an immediate, remedial, legislative solution. The Legislature intends that the cumulative recovery by all asbestos claimants from innocent successors be limited, and intends to simply change the form of asbestos claimants’ remedies without impairing their substantive rights, and finds that there are no alternative means to meet this public necessity. The Legislature finds the public interest as a whole is best served by providing relief to these innocent successors so that they may remain viable and continue to contribute to this state.
History.s. 1, ch. 2005-269.
774.002 Definitions.
(1) “Asbestos claim” means any claim, wherever or whenever made, for damages, losses, indemnification, contribution, or other relief arising out of, based on, or in any way related to asbestos, including:
(a) The health effects of exposure to asbestos, including any claim for:
1. Personal injury or death;
2. Mental or emotional injury;
3. Risk of disease or other injury; or
4. The costs of medical monitoring or surveillance, to the extent these claims are recognized under state law;
(b) Any claim made by or on behalf of a person exposed to asbestos, or a representative, spouse, parent, child, or other relative of the person; and
(c) Any claim for damage or loss caused by the installation, presence, or removal of asbestos.
(2) “Corporation” means a corporation for profit, including a domestic corporation organized under the laws of this state, or a foreign corporation organized under laws other than the laws of this state.
(3) “Successor” means a corporation that assumes or incurs, or has assumed or incurred, successor asbestos-related liabilities.
(4) “Successor asbestos-related liabilities” means any liabilities, whether known or unknown, asserted or unasserted, absolute or contingent, accrued or unaccrued, liquidated or unliquidated, or due or to become due, which are related in any way to asbestos claims and were assumed or incurred by a corporation as a result of or in connection with a merger or consolidation, or the plan of merger or consolidation related to the merger or consolidation, with or into another corporation, or which are related in any way to asbestos claims based on the exercise of control or the ownership of stock of the corporation before the merger or consolidation. The term includes liabilities that, after the time of the merger or consolidation for which the fair market value of total gross assets is determined under s. 774.004 were or are paid or otherwise discharged, or committed to be paid or otherwise discharged, by or on behalf of the corporation, or by a successor of the corporation, or by or on behalf of a transferor, in connection with settlements, judgments, or other discharges in this state or another jurisdiction.
(5) “Transferor” means a corporation from which successor asbestos-related liabilities are or were assumed or incurred.
History.s. 2, ch. 2005-269.
774.003 Applicability.
(1) The limitations in s. 774.004 apply to a corporation that is a successor and became a successor before January 1, 1972, or is any of that successor corporation’s successors.
(2) The limitations in s. 774.004 do not apply to:
(a) Workers’ compensation benefits paid by or on behalf of an employer to an employee under chapter 440 or a comparable workers’ compensation law of another jurisdiction;
(b) Any claim against a corporation that does not constitute a successor asbestos-related liability;
(c) An insurance company, as defined in s. 717.101;
(d) Any obligations under the National Labor Relations Act, as amended, or under any collective bargaining agreement; or
(e) A successor that, after a merger or consolidation, continued in the business of mining asbestos; in the business of selling or distributing asbestos fibers; or in the business of manufacturing, distributing, removing, or installing asbestos-containing products that were the same or substantially the same as those products previously manufactured, distributed, removed, or installed by the transferor.
History.s. 3, ch. 2005-269.
774.004 Limitations on successor asbestos-related liabilities.
(1) Except as further limited in subsection (2), the cumulative successor asbestos-related liabilities of a corporation are limited to the fair market value of the total gross assets of the transferor determined as of the time of the merger or consolidation. The corporation does not have any responsibility for successor asbestos-related liabilities in excess of this limitation.
(2) If the transferor had assumed or incurred successor asbestos-related liabilities in connection with a prior merger or consolidation with a prior transferor, the fair market value of the total assets of the prior transferor, determined as of the time of the earlier merger or consolidation, shall be substituted for the limitation set forth in subsection (1) for purposes of determining the limitation of liability of a corporation.
History.s. 4, ch. 2005-269.
774.005 Establishing fair market value of total gross assets.
(1) A corporation may establish the fair market value of total gross assets for the purpose of the limitations under s. 774.004 through any method reasonable under the circumstances, including:
(a) By reference to the going concern value of the assets or to the purchase price attributable to or paid for the assets in an arm’s length transaction; or
(b) In the absence of other readily available information from which fair market value can be determined, by reference to the value of the assets recorded on a balance sheet.
(2) Total gross assets include intangible assets.
(3) Total gross assets include the aggregate coverage under any applicable liability insurance that was issued to the transferor whose assets are being valued for purposes of this section, which insurance has been collected or is collectible to cover successor asbestos-related liabilities except compensation for liabilities arising from workers’ exposure to asbestos solely during the course of their employment by the transferor. A settlement of a dispute concerning the insurance coverage entered into by a transferor or successor with the insurers of the transferor before the effective date of this act shall be determinative of the aggregate coverage of the liability insurance to be included in the calculation of the transferor’s total gross assets.
History.s. 5, ch. 2005-269.
774.006 Adjustment.
(1) Except as provided in subsections (2), (3), and (4), the fair market value of total gross assets at the time of a merger or consolidation shall increase annually at a rate equal to the sum of:
(a) The prime rate as listed in the first edition of the Wall Street Journal published for each calendar year since the merger or consolidation, unless the prime rate is not published in that edition of the Wall Street Journal, in which case any reasonable determination of the prime rate on the first day of the year may be used; and
(b) One percent.
(2) The rate in subsection (1) may not be compounded.
(3) The adjustment of fair market value of total gross assets shall continue as provided under subsection (1) until the date the adjusted value is first exceeded by the cumulative amounts of successor asbestos-related liabilities paid or committed to be paid by or on behalf of the corporation or a predecessor, or by or on behalf of a transferor, after the time of the merger or consolidation for which the fair market value of total gross assets is determined.
(4) No adjustment of the fair market value of total gross assets shall be applied to any liability insurance otherwise included in the definition of total gross assets by s. 774.005(3).
History.s. 6, ch. 2005-269.
774.007 Scope.The courts in this state shall apply, to the fullest extent permissible under the United States Constitution, this state’s substantive law, including the limitation under this act, to the issue of successor asbestos-related liabilities. This act shall be construed liberally to accomplish its remedial purposes.
History.s. 7, ch. 2005-269.
774.008 Severability.If any provision of this act or its application to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity shall not affect other provisions or applications of this act which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this act are severable.
History.s. 8, ch. 2005-269.
ASBESTOS AND SILICA COMPENSATION
FAIRNESS ACT
774.201 Short title.
774.202 Purpose.
774.203 Definitions.
774.204 Physical impairment.
774.205 Claimant proceedings.
774.206 Statute of limitations; two-disease rule.
774.207 Scope of liability; damages.
774.208 Liability rules applicable to protect sellers, renters, and lessors.
774.209 Miscellaneous provisions.
774.201 Short title.This act may be cited as the “Asbestos and Silica Compensation Fairness Act”.
History.s. 1, ch. 2005-274.
774.202 Purpose.It is the purpose of this act to:
(1) Give priority to true victims of asbestos and silica, claimants who can demonstrate actual physical impairment caused by exposure to asbestos or silica;
(2) Fully preserve the rights of claimants who were exposed to asbestos or silica to pursue compensation if they become impaired in the future as a result of the exposure;
(3) Enhance the ability of the judicial system to supervise and control asbestos and silica litigation; and
(4) Conserve the scarce resources of the defendants to allow compensation to cancer victims and others who are physically impaired by exposure to asbestos or silica while securing the right to similar compensation for those who may suffer physical impairment in the future.
History.s. 2, ch. 2005-274.
774.203 Definitions.As used in this act, the term:
(1) “AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment” means the American Medical Association’s Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment.
(2) “Asbestos” includes all minerals defined as “asbestos” in 29 C.F.R. s. 1910, as amended.
(3) “Asbestos claim” means a claim for damages or other civil or equitable relief presented in a civil action, arising out of, based on, or related to the health effects of exposure to asbestos, including loss of consortium, wrongful death, and any other derivative claim made by or on behalf of an exposed person or a representative, spouse, parent, child, or other relative of an exposed person. The term does not include claims for benefits under a workers’ compensation law or veterans’ benefits program, or claims brought by a person as a subrogee by virtue of the payment of benefits under a workers’ compensation law.
(4) “Asbestosis” means bilateral diffuse interstitial fibrosis of the lungs caused by inhalation of asbestos fibers.
(5) “Board certified in internal medicine” means a physician who is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine or the American Osteopathic Board of Internal Medicine.
(6) “Board certified in occupational medicine” means a physician who is certified in the subspecialty of occupational medicine by the American Board of Preventive Medicine or the American Osteopathic Board of Preventive Medicine.
(7) “Board certified in oncology” means a physician who is certified in the subspecialty of medical oncology by the American Board of Internal Medicine or the American Osteopathic Board of Internal Medicine.
(8) “Board certified in pathology” means a physician who holds primary certification in anatomic pathology or clinical pathology from the American Board of Pathology or the American Osteopathic Board of Internal Medicine and whose professional practice:
(a) Is principally in the field of pathology; and
(b) Involves regular evaluation of pathology materials obtained from surgical or postmortem specimens.
(9) “Board certified in pulmonary medicine” means a physician who is certified in the subspecialty of pulmonary medicine by the American Board of Internal Medicine or the American Osteopathic Board of Internal Medicine.
(10) “Bankruptcy proceeding” means a case brought under Title 11 of the United States Code or any related proceeding as provided in 28 U.S.C. s. 157.
(11) “Certified B-reader” means an individual qualified as a “final” or “B-reader” under 42 C.F.R. s. 37.51(b), as amended.
(12) “Civil action” means all suits or claims of a civil nature in court, whether cognizable as cases at law or in equity or in admiralty. The term does not include an action relating to a workers’ compensation law, or a proceeding for benefits under a veterans’ benefits program.
(13) “Exposed person” means a person whose exposure to asbestos or to asbestos-containing products is the basis for an asbestos claim.
(14) “FEV1” means forced expiratory volume in the first second, which is the maximal volume of air expelled in one second during performance of simple spirometric tests.
(15) “FVC” means forced vital capacity, which is the maximal volume of air expired with maximum effort from a position of full inspiration.
(16) “ILO Scale” means the system for the classification of chest X rays set forth in the International Labour Office’s Guidelines for the Use of ILO International Classification of Radiographs of Pneumoconioses.
(17) “Lung cancer” means a malignant tumor in which the primary site of origin of the cancer is inside of the lungs, but the term does not include an asbestos claim based upon mesothelioma.
(18) “Mesothelioma” means a malignant tumor with a primary site in the pleura or the peritoneum, which has been diagnosed by a board-certified pathologist, using standardized and accepted criteria of microscopic morphology or appropriate staining techniques.
(19) “Nonmalignant condition” means any condition that can be caused by asbestos or silica other than a diagnosed cancer.
(20) “Nonsmoker” means the exposed person has not smoked cigarettes or used other tobacco products on a consistent and frequent basis within the last 15 years.
(21) “Pathological evidence of asbestosis” means a statement by a board-certified pathologist that more than one representative section of lung tissue uninvolved with any other disease process demonstrates a pattern of peribronchiolar or parenchymal scarring in the presence of characteristic asbestos bodies and that there is no other more likely explanation for the presence of the fibrosis.
(22) “Predicted lower limit of normal” for any test means the fifth percentile of healthy populations based on age, height, and gender, as referenced in the AMA Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment.
(23) “Qualified physician” means a medical doctor, who:
(a) Is a board-certified pathologist licensed to practice and actively practices in this country who performed services requested or authorized by a physician who:
1. Has conducted a physical examination of the exposed person or, if the person is deceased, has reviewed all available records relating to the exposed person’s medical condition;
2. Is actually treating or has treated the exposed person, and has or had a doctor-patient relationship with the person; and
3. Is licensed to practice and actively practices in this country; or
(b) Is a board-certified oncologist, pulmonary specialist, or specialist in occupational and environmental medicine who:
1. Has conducted a physical examination of the exposed person or, if the person is deceased, has reviewed all available records relating to the exposed person’s medical condition;
2. Is actually treating or has treated the exposed person, and has or had a doctor-patient relationship with the person; and
3. Is licensed to practice and actively practices in this country.
(24) “Radiological evidence of asbestosis” means a quality 1 chest X ray under the ILO System of classification (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) showing small, irregular opacities (s, t, u) graded by a certified B-reader as at least 1/1 on the ILO scale.
(25) “Radiological evidence of diffuse pleural thickening” means a quality 1 chest X ray under the ILO System of classification (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) showing bilateral pleural thickening of at least B2 on the ILO scale and blunting of at least one costophrenic angle.
(26) “Silica” means a respirable crystalline form of silicon dioxide, including, but not limited to, alpha, quartz, cristobalite, and trydmite.
(27) “Silica claim” means a claim for damages or other civil or equitable relief presented in a civil action, arising out of, based on, or related to the health effects of exposure to silica, including loss of consortium, wrongful death, and any other derivative claim made by or on behalf of an exposed person or a representative, spouse, parent, child, or other relative of an exposed person. The term does not include claims for benefits under a workers’ compensation law or veterans’ benefits program, or claims brought by a person as a subrogee by virtue of the payment of benefits under a workers’ compensation law.
(28) “Silicosis” means nodular interstitial fibrosis of the lungs caused by inhalation of silica.
(29) “Smoker” means a person who has smoked cigarettes or used other tobacco products on a consistent and frequent basis within the last 15 years.
(30) “Substantial occupational exposure” means employment for an extended period of time in industries and occupations in which, for a substantial portion of a normal work year for that occupation, the exposed person did any of the following:
(a) Handled raw asbestos fibers;
(b) Fabricated asbestos-containing products so that the person was exposed to raw asbestos fibers in the fabrication process;
(c) Altered, repaired, or otherwise worked with an asbestos-containing product in a manner that exposed the person on a regular basis to asbestos fibers; or
(d) Worked in close proximity to other persons engaged in any of the activities described in paragraphs (a)-(c) in a manner that exposed the person on a regular basis to asbestos fibers.
(31) “Veterans benefits program” means a program for benefits in connection with military service administered by the Veterans’ Administration under Title 38 of the United States Code.
(32) “Workers’ compensation law” means a law respecting a program administered by this state or the United States to provide benefits, funded by a responsible employer or its insurance carrier, for occupational diseases or injuries or for disability or death caused by occupational diseases or injuries. The term includes the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, 33 U.S.C. ss. 901-944, 948-950, and the Federal Employees Compensation Act, chapter 81 of Title 5, United States Code, but does not include the Act of April 22, 1908, the Federal Employers Liability Act, 45 U.S.C. ss. 51 et seq.
History.s. 3, ch. 2005-274; s. 105, ch. 2006-1.
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.
774.205 Claimant proceedings.
(1) A civil action alleging an asbestos or silica claim may be brought in the courts of this state if the plaintiff is domiciled in this state or the exposure to asbestos or silica that is a substantial contributing factor to the physical impairment of the plaintiff on which the claim is based occurred in this state.
(2) A plaintiff in a civil action alleging an asbestos or silica claim must include with the complaint or other initial pleading a written report and supporting test results constituting prima facie evidence of the exposed person’s asbestos-related or silica-related physical impairment meeting the requirements of s. 774.204(2), (3), (5), or (6). For any asbestos or silica claim pending on the effective date of this act, the plaintiff must file the report and supporting test results at least 30 days before setting a date for trial. The defendant must be afforded a reasonable opportunity to challenge the adequacy of the proffered prima facie evidence of asbestos-related impairment. The claim of the plaintiff shall be dismissed without prejudice upon a finding of failure to make the required prima facie showing.
(3) All asbestos claims and silica claims filed in this state on or after the effective date of this act must include, in addition to the written report described in subsection (2) and the information required by s. 774.207(2), a sworn information form containing the following information:
(a) The claimant’s name, address, date of birth, and marital status;
(b) If the claimant alleges exposure to asbestos or silica through the testimony of another person or alleges other than direct or bystander exposure to a product, the name, address, date of birth, and marital status for each person by which the claimant alleges exposure, hereinafter the “index person,” and the claimant’s relationship to each such person;
(c) The specific location of each alleged exposure;
(d) The beginning and ending dates of each alleged exposure as to each asbestos product or silica product for each location at which exposure allegedly took place for the plaintiff and each index person;
(e) The occupation and name of the employer of the exposed person at the time of each alleged exposure;
(f) The specific condition related to asbestos or silica claimed to exist; and
(g) Any supporting documentation of the condition claimed to exist.
History.s. 5, ch. 2005-274; s. 107, ch. 2006-1.
774.206 Statute of limitations; two-disease rule.
(1) Notwithstanding any other law, with respect to any asbestos or silica claim not barred as of the effective date of this act, the limitations period does not begin to run until the exposed person discovers, or through the exercise of reasonable diligence should have discovered, that he or she is physically impaired by an asbestos-related or silica-related condition.
(2) An asbestos or silica claim arising out of a nonmalignant condition shall be a distinct cause of action from an asbestos or silica claim relating to the same exposed person arising out of asbestos-related or silica-related cancer. Damages may not be awarded for fear or risk of cancer in a civil action asserting an asbestos or silica claim.
(3) A settlement of a nonmalignant asbestos or silica claim concluded after the effective date of this act may not require, as a condition of settlement, the release of any future claim for asbestos-related or silica-related cancer.
History.s. 6, ch. 2005-274.
774.207 Scope of liability; damages.
(1) Punitive damages may not be awarded in any civil action alleging an asbestos or silica claim.
(2) At the time a complaint is filed in a civil action alleging an asbestos or silica claim, the plaintiff must file a verified written report with the court which discloses the total amount of any collateral source payments received, including payments that the plaintiff will receive in the future, as a result of settlements or judgments based upon the same claim. For any asbestos or silica claim pending on the effective date of this act, the plaintiff shall file a verified written report within 60 days after the effective date of this act, or at least 30 days before trial. Further, the plaintiff must update the reports on a regular basis during the course of the proceeding until a final judgment is entered in the case. The court shall permit setoff, based on the collateral source payment information provided, in accordance with the laws of this state as of the effective date of this act.
History.s. 7, ch. 2005-274.
774.208 Liability rules applicable to protect sellers, renters, and lessors.
(1)(a) In a civil action alleging an asbestos or silica claim, a product seller other than a manufacturer is liable to a plaintiff only if the plaintiff establishes that:
1.a. The product that allegedly caused the harm that is the subject of the complaint was sold, rented, or leased by the product seller;
b. The product seller failed to exercise reasonable care with respect to the product; and
c. The failure to exercise reasonable care was a proximate cause of the harm to the exposed person;
2.a. The product seller made an express warranty applicable to the product that allegedly caused the harm that is the subject of the complaint, independent of any express warranty made by the manufacturer as to the same product;
b. The product failed to conform to the warranty; and
c. The failure of the product to conform to the warranty caused the harm to the exposed person; or
3.a. The product seller engaged in intentional wrongdoing, as determined under the law of this state; and
b. The intentional wrongdoing caused the harm that is the subject of the complaint.
(b) For the purpose of sub-subparagraph (a)1.b., a product seller may not be considered to have failed to exercise reasonable care with respect to a product based upon an alleged failure to inspect the product, if:
1. The failure occurred because there was no reasonable opportunity to inspect the product; or
2. The inspection, in the exercise of reasonable care, would not have revealed the aspect of the product which allegedly caused the exposed person’s impairment.
(2) In a civil action alleging an asbestos or silica claim, a person engaged in the business of renting or leasing a product is not liable for the tortious act of another solely by reason of ownership of that product.
History.s. 8, ch. 2005-274; s. 108, ch. 2006-1.
774.209 Miscellaneous provisions.
(1) This act does not affect the scope or operation of any workers’ compensation law or veterans’ benefit program, affect the exclusive remedy or subrogation provisions of the law, or authorize any lawsuit which is barred by law.
(2) Nothing in this act is intended to, and nothing in this act shall be interpreted to:
(a) Affect the rights of any party in bankruptcy proceedings; or
(b) Affect the ability of any person who is able to make a showing that the person satisfies the claim criteria for compensable claims or demands under a trust established under a plan of reorganization under chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code, 11 U.S.C. chapter 11, to make a claim or demand against that trust.
(3) It is the intent of the Legislature that this law render the utmost comity and respect to the constitutional prerogatives of the judiciary of this state, and nothing in this act should be construed as any effort to impinge upon those prerogatives. To that end, if the Florida Supreme Court enters a final judgment concluding or declaring that any provision of this act improperly encroaches on the authority of the court to adopt the rules of practice and procedure in the courts of this state, the Legislature intends that any such provision be construed as a request for a rule change under s. 2, Art. V of the State Constitution and not as a mandatory legislative directive.
(4) This act may not be interpreted to prevent any person from bringing or maintaining an asbestos claim based on nonoccupational exposure where such person would be otherwise able to bring or maintain a claim under this act.
(5) If any provision of this act or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions or application of the act which can be given effect without the invalid provision or application, and to this end the provisions of this act are declared severable.
History.s. 9, ch. 2005-274.