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Missouri lawmakers seek to limit asbestos victims’ rights

The Missouri House recently passed House Bill 1645, which amends existing state law regarding compensation for asbestos exposure. The proposed law’s stated purpose is to limit and delay payouts to mesothelioma victims.

Asbestos causes mesothelioma, the terminal cancer. Most people who develop mesothelioma do so through work, particularly construction and demolition, or from military service. First responders are also likely to be exposed to asbestos on the job.

Because the connection between asbestos and mesothelioma is uncontroverted, businesses that knowingly exposed workers and others to asbestos have been forced to pay out large sums to victims for their pain and suffering. Victims can file a claim against an asbestos bankruptcy trust or through a personal injury lawsuit to get help with medical expenses associated with mesothelioma, which are significant.

Making it easier for businesses to avoid paying

The bill, currently in the state Senate, would require mesothelioma victims to figure out every possible source of asbestos exposure within 30 days of filing a lawsuit. Lawmakers who voted against the bill argued that if it became law, the measure would ultimately result in mesothelioma victims dying before they had their day in court – which is exactly what these businesses want.

While strides have been made in mesothelioma treatment, the one-year survival rate after diagnosis is less than 50 percent. The more legal obstacles can be put in front of mesothelioma victims, the likelier it is that the victims will not live long enough to get financial help for their family.

Will it pass?

The state Senate had a first reading of the bill on March 8. It must still go through committee and be voted on before it becomes law. It is not clear if the bill will pass in its current form. Unfortunately, however, this legislation follows a troubling trend of states limiting the rights of hardworking people who were exposed to asbestos.

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