A proposed law that would significantly restrict the rights of mesothelioma victims has been passed in the Missouri House of Representatives and is now headed to the state Senate for consideration.
In response, representatives and advocates are expressing outrage and asking the bill’s supporters to consider the harm that mesothelioma victims have suffered.
The bill restricts the rights of people who have been diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma when it comes to filing a lawsuit against those responsible. It provides just 30 days for them to provide information about all claims that they have filed, including complete documentation of claims filed against individual defendants and asbestos bankruptcy trusts.
Supporters of the bill claim that it will expedite victims’ ability to pursue their claims and receive compensation. Yet, those who are opposed say that it will severely restrict victims’ ability to file lawsuits at all, and that that is the hidden agency of the bill.
Those in opposition to the bill spoke passionately from the House floor on behalf of mesothelioma victims and others affected by asbestos. While Representative Jay Barnes of Jefferson City indicated that he was opposed to the bill because firefighters diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases would not be able to identify all of the potential sources of their illness that quickly, Representative Mark Ellebracht of Liberty took a more emotional approach.
While inhaling and exhaling into a microphone in imitation of the labored breathing characteristic of victims of asbestos exposure, he said, “That’s the sound of this body suffocating the constitutional rights of our constituents away from us, with bill after bill such as this. They have a right to bring their claim.”
Throughout the country, legislators are acting on behalf of asbestos companies to try to limit the abilities of mesothelioma victims to file lawsuits against them.
The Missouri bill not only limits the amount of time available for submission of filing information, but it also permits asbestos companies faced with claims to seek options to delay the trial and later reopen it, as well as to introduce claims that might prove other causes of the person’s injury or death.
Though asbestos companies are mounting powerful challenges against the rights of mesothelioma victims, there are also many forces working on their behalf. To learn more about resources for people with mesothelioma, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.