It is not at all uncommon for a person to be diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma years after an earlier diagnosis of a non-terminal asbestos-related condition. This situation can create a legal dilemma, as the patient may have agreed to a settlement with the asbestos companies for the first diagnosis, only to find themselves unable to legally pursue further compensation because of waivers signed following the first legal process. The state legislature in Virginia recently took action to right this injustice: they passed a law that establishes the beginning of the statute of limitations in lawsuits involving terminal asbestos-related conditions at the time of diagnosis for the second illness, thus freeing victims to pursue the justice that they deserve.
State Supreme Court Decision in Mesothelioma Case Spurred Legislators to Action
The new law is a direct result of legislators’ unhappiness with a 2013 decision made by the Virginia state Supreme Court decision in a mesothelioma lawsuit. In that case, Kiser v. A.W. Chesterton, the court heard arguments revolving around the case of Orvin Kiser. Mr. Kiser had pursued his initial legal action against asbestos companies in 1988 regarding asbestosis and pleural thickening caused by exposure to asbestos in the workplace.
Twenty years later he was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. He died four months later, and his survivors filed a wrongful death lawsuit against a different set of asbestos companies. The Supreme Court agreed with the asbestos companies’ motions that argued that the statute of limitations barred the lawsuit because the legal action arose in 1988 rather than when his mesothelioma was diagnosed.
Virginia Governor Signs Mesothelioma Law
Following the controversial decision by the state Supreme Court, legislators moved to pass House Bill 781 unanimously, and Governor Ralph Northam signed it into law, effectively resetting the legal clock for mesothelioma victims who had previous, non-fatal asbestos-related diagnoses to the date of the diagnosis of the fatal illness.
Through patience and hard work, malignant mesothelioma patients can get the justice they deserve. For information, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.