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Supreme Court Strikes Down Unconstitutionally Retroactive Statute

Representing the estate of a worker who died of mesothelioma, Deborah Hankinson successfully argued to the Texas Supreme Court that a statute limiting corporate successor liability for asbestos-related claims was unconstitutionally retroactive. The statute was enacted after the plaintiff filed common law negligence and product liability claims against the defendant, a successor corporation to an asbestos manufacturer. The court held the statute’s retroactive elimination of plaintiff’s mature common law tort claims, which had a substantial basis in fact, disrupted his reasonable, settled expectations under the law. The statute was enacted to help only the defendant, and no one else. Because the legislature made no findings on any substantial public interest that the statute served, the court concluded that the public interest served by the statute was slight. Robinson v. Crown Cork & Seal Co., 335 S.W.3d 126 (Tex. 2010).