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Arizona Law Will Hurt Asbestos Victims

There’s a movement afoot across the United States to limit the amount of compensation that victims of asbestos exposure are able to receive. It’s being backed by a conservative pro-business group called the American Legislative Exchange Council, and it claimed another victory with a bill signed into Arizona state law by Governor Doug Ducey.

Though Ducey says that the law will introduce a greater measure of transparency and fairness into lawsuits involving asbestos, health and legal advocates representing those who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis and other asbestos-related diseases see the law as an effort to slow down the litigation process in order to prevent victims from testifying for themselves. According to Janice Goldstein, executive director of the Arizona Trial Lawyers Association, “The goal of this bill is clear – to delay asbestosis and mesothelioma claims, to make them more expensive for victims and to make sure no victim survives his or her asbestosis or mesothelioma long enough to testify in court.”

Countering her characterization, the governor said, “While victims are entitled to compensation, we must prevent double recovery from occurring in the process. I want to ensure we’re doing everything possible to create an environment of transparency and fairness in Arizona’s legal system.”

The bill was originally introduced in the Arizona legislature by Representative Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City. It establishes a requirement that asbestos victims submit a sworn statement detailing every asbestos-related claim that they are making or that they plan to make as part of filing a personal injury lawsuit against an asbestos company. Not only does the law require this additional work and disclosure on the part of the victim, but also provides the companies that are cited in the lawsuit to request a delay in the proceedings in order to determine whether or not the victim may be eligible for monies from any of the established asbestos-injury trusts.

According to Goldstein’s organization, the burden that these new requirements place on victims will cause serious hardship and delays, and is unnecessary because the state already had laws in place preventing asbestos victims from receiving more than the amount to which they are entitled in asbestos lawsuits.

Health advocates and plaintiffs’ rights advocates are expressing concern about similar legislation that the American Legislative Exchange Council is lobbying for in other states.

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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