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Michigan law tries to deny meso victims their day in court

Many victims of asbestos-caused mesothelioma are living longer and healthier lives due to advances in treatment. Still, the sad truth is that mesothelioma is incurable, with a one-year survival rate of less than 50 percent.

That is why many mesothelioma victims look to act quickly after diagnosis, both medically and legally. Getting their day in court and holding those responsible for exposing workers and others to asbestos is important.

Bill written by asbestos lobbyists passes Michigan House

For Michigan residents, that ability may be in danger. The Michigan House just passed the Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Claims Transparency Act, which allows defendants in mesothelioma litigation to file motions to delay proceedings for 60 days if a plaintiff may potentially be involved in another asbestos bankruptcy trust lawsuit.

You can read the model bill on ALEC. Other, similar legislation has been attempted in other states. Nor is this technique new. Several years ago, lobbyists created the Furthering Asbestos Claims Transparency (FACT) Act, which sought to create a public database to search for victims who file a claim against a bankruptcy trust and required quarterly reports. Again, this was an attempt to create legal hurdles and discourage mesothelioma victims from filing claims.

Delaying as long as possible

If the bill becomes law, defendants in a lawsuit could file 60-day motions in state court to delay trial if they believe the plaintiff can participate in another bankruptcy trust lawsuit. There is no limit to the number of times a defendant can delay a court date, provided the judge grants the motion.

This could lead to asbestos defendants waiting as much time as possible in every case, so that fewer plaintiffs are alive at the time of trial.

The bill is not yet law. It is currently in committee in the state Senate.

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