The state of Indiana is poised to pass a law that would have a direct and extremely damaging impact on people diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.
It would also position Indiana as the only state in the country not to carve out an exemption for the statute of repose for latent diseases associated with asbestos exposure.
The bill, which is making its way through the state’s General Assembly, would undo a March 2016 court decision that allowed a mesothelioma victim to pursue justice against asbestos manufacturers. That decision said that a cut off period for when lawsuits could be filed against manufacturers was not applicable for diseases that were known to have long latency periods.
What has been proposed is an elimination of that cutoff, as well as a requirement that legal action can only be taken if a mesothelioma diagnosis is made 15 years after the first exposure. The bill is being supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, as well as a conservative action committee known as ALEC, or the American Legislative Exchange Council.
These groups often point to asbestos bankruptcy trusts, stating that trusts provide sufficient compensation for victims, but the amount that these trusts can provide does not provide justice against all those responsible for asbestos exposure.
Advocates for mesothelioma victims are opposing the bill, as well as attaching an amendment that would send that section of the bill to a special committee to look at the topic of latency more closely.
One of those opposing the bill is Representative Ryan Hatfield, a Democrat representing Evansville, who said the bill didn’t fit how the state’s “legal systems work.”
“It’s extremely unfair and it’s a national model bill that does not fit with the way our legal systems work in Indiana. And I fear it will have tragic consequences for victims and their families. This bill says that we, in the state of Indiana, are not going to allow for just compensation and recovery when these individuals are in the final months of life, and we are not going to hold accountable those companies that chose to use products they knew or should have known would kill you.”
Though mesothelioma victims have powerful forces working against them, they also have many advocates. For information on the resources available to you, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.