April 27, 2016
Neighboring Missouri courts have become a haven for asbestos plaintiffs whose claims have expired under the shorter Illinois statute of limitations. 

In Wolfe, et al. v. Armstrong Int’l, Inc., et al., Cause No. 1522-CC11026 (Div. No. 4), the Circuit Court for the City of St. Louis, 22nd Circuit, entered an April 11, 2016, Order dismissing certain defendants from an asbestos lawsuit on the basis that the claims made against those defendants were barred by the Illinois wrongful death statute of limitations (740 ILCS 180.2), notwithstanding the fact that the plaintiffs had brought the action in Missouri court purportedly under the Missouri wrongful death statute (§ 537.080 RSMo).1

The Court explained that where a wrongful death statute contains a built-in statute of limitations, like that of the Illinois Wrongful Death Act, the Court conducts a traditional conflicts of laws analysis under the Restatement (Second) of Conflict of Laws (1971). Here, under that analysis, the Illinois wrongful death statute, including its two-year statute of limitations, applied to bar the plaintiffs’ claim. See Order, at 5.

This decision gives defendants the ability to bar claims filed in Missouri courts that would otherwise be time-barred in Illinois and other states.

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