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WASHINGTON — The loss of a key Democratic supporter of product liability legislation is not likely to seriously delay a related provision removing liability for biomaterials suppliers, a plastics industry lobbyist said.

Sen. John D. Rockefeller, D-W.Va., supported past product liability rewrites but earlier this month voted against the bill in a Senate committee because it does not address President Clinton's concerns on broad product liability damage caps.

Biomaterials liability is attached to the broader product liability bill, but also has been introduced as an independent bill in both the Senate and the House, said Jerome Heckman, general counsel for the Society of the Plastics Industry Inc. in Washington.

Biomaterials legislation has broad bipartisan support and was specifically singled out for support by Clinton when he vetoed the broad product liability last year, Heckman said.

The balanced budget debate is delaying any serious action on legislation such as biomaterials, Heckman said.