Texas SC: Crown Cork asbestos suit protection unconstitutional
AUSTIN, Texas (Legal Newsline) - Legislators improperly granted bottle cap maker Crown Cork and Seal retroactive protection from asbestos lawsuits, the Supreme Court of Texas ruled Friday.
Six Justices reversed appeals judges who held that legislators properly exercised police power to protect about 2,000 active and retired Crown workers in Texas.
Crown never made products with asbestos but faces liability because it merged in 1966 with Mundet Cork, a company did use asbestos in its products.
Crown paid 59 times over for its mistake, having spent $7 million to buy Mundet and $413 million to resolve claims.
In 2003, Texas legislators seeking to lighten Crown's load inserted retroactive relief into a larger asbestos litigation reform law.
According to the Supreme Court, Crown's situation didn't come close to justifying an exception to a constitutional prohibition against retroactive laws.
Justice Nathan Hecht wrote that "the legislative record is fairly clear that Chapter 149 was enacted to help only Crown and no one else."
To view the entire article, visit the Southeast Texas Record.