Injuries caused by asbestos may not manifest until many years after exposure. Given this long latency period, the Indiana Supreme Court and General Assembly have frequently grappled with how to appropriately ensure that asbestos plaintiffs get a day in court while also ensuring that manufacturers are not forced to defend stale claims. The ongoing dialogue between the court and legislature on this topic has charted a meandering course leaving litigants unsure of the value of their claims and defenses. Much to the chagrin of potential plaintiffs and defendants alike, limits on asbestos actions were invalidated, resurrected and then finally invalidated again in Myers v. Crouse-Hinds Div. of Cooper Indus., Inc.
There have been three reversals on the same point of law in less than 20 years by the Indiana Supreme Court, which normally is a model of stability. Although the court does not hesitate to change common law when the time is right, it does not usually chart the circular course it has taken with the asbestos statute of repose. I recently published an article discussing these cases and the impact on asbestos claims going forward.