Advocates for Those Exposed to Asbestos Keep Eye on New Laws
June 29, 2012
Companies that produce, sell or use asbestos-laden products do their best to limit compensation for asbestos victims. That’s to be expected in court. But asbestos lawsuit defendants aren’t content to fight victims one claim at a time in the courthouse.
Over the past decade, they’ve also taken to statehouses and Congress.
Through lobbying, they’ve managed to convince lawmakers to pass legislation limiting their liability through legislation.
But there are signs that asbestos victim advocates are also reaching out to lawmakers.
Asbestos Industry’s Lobbying Machine
Filing a personal injury lawsuit against a corporation is no small feat. But across the country, people who were exposed to asbestos are choosing to demand justice. And the asbestos industry has taken notice. As long as widespread asbestos-related injuries continue, so will asbestos lawsuits.
That’s why asbestos defendants are backing a number of laws to limit who can sue them. They include laws medical criteria and laws that limit liability for successor companies that buy other companies with asbestos liabilities.
These laws were modeled after legislation drafted by American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). ALEC is an industry-backed nonprofit group that drafts model legislation.
The asbestos industry lobbied lawmakers in states like Texas, Florida, Mississippi and Ohio to push through similar legislation. These states later saw the asbestos case dockets shrink.
Asbestos Victims Make Their Voices Heard
Asbestos claimants aren’t necessarily against all legislation backed by the asbestos industry. For instance, some support medical criteria and other laws that arguably make sure the sickest victims are compensated first.
In fact, the industry often claims that proposed legislation benefits asbestos victims. So asbestos victim claimants must remain vigilant and speak out what this legislation really does.
Fortunately, that’s what asbestos victim advocates did in Minnesota. They helped defeat a successor liability bill that would have severely limited compensation for those who were exposed to asbestos a decade more ago.
Victim advocates in Louisiana also helped stop a bill that would have required plaintiffs to list all potential bankruptcy trust claims during discovery.
Earlier this month, we mentioned another bill that’s reportedly based on an ALEC model. The proposed FACT Act (Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency) would require asbestos trusts to issue detailed public reports on their claims.
That information would be made available to asbestos defendants at the trusts’ expense. The bill is still pending in Congress. But thanks to the voices of asbestos victim advocates, it faces significant opposition.
Although some legislation has been a setback for asbestos victim claims, claimants are also making progress. By making their voices heard, victims are protecting their right to compensation for their injuries.
For more information about filing a claim for compensation, contact an experienced mesothelioma attorney.