Illinois residents should keep an eye on a fellow Midwest state, which has recently signed into law a bill to place obstacles in the path of asbestos litigation. In what is a disturbing result for victims of mesothelioma, the state will now place extra burdens on those who pursue asbestos litigation.
Veterans groups opposed the bill because of the particularly high number of armed service personnel who suffer from asbestos-related diseases. The bill forces attorneys who represent people with mesothelioma and their families to look to the asbestos trust first, rather than filing a lawsuit against businesses at the same time.
Lawyers are also required to state up front the number of companies they will name in their suits. Opponents say these restrictions will be an impediment to justice for those affected by asbestos exposure. Supporters of the new law called the current system “double dipping” and say it will conserve funds for victims who have yet to be identified.
The asbestos trusts were funded corporations that closed after being called to account for exposing their employees and customers to asbestos over a period of years or decades. Those businesses placed their assets into the funds to compensate what is now acknowledged to be a large number of present and potential mesothelioma victims. The combined assets of the 60 asbestos trusts formed in this way total approximately $37 billion.
This legislative attack on asbestos litigation is a reminder that victims should not take their rights for granted. Experienced representation can be a crucial resource for those who suffer as a result of asbestos exposure.
Source: Star Tribune, “Asbestos lawsuits bill opposed by veterans, Democrats among 29 Walker quietly signs,” Scott Bauer, March 27, 2014