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Legislation could delay asbestos lawsuits in some states

Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related illnesses are devastating to the people who receive such a diagnosis. In many cases in Illinois and in other states, time is of the essence when it comes to filing a lawsuit against businesses that have exposed people to asbestos.

However, some states have seemed to come down on the side of businesses in these cases, making it more difficult for potential plaintiffs to file lawsuits over their asbestos-related illnesses. The most recent example is in Wisconsin, where a state representative has introduced legislation that would require attorneys to divulge all of the companies that are being sued before the case to proceed.

There are other instances around the country of similar legislation; Ohio passed a version last year and there are similar versions pending in Oklahoma and right here in Illinois. Lawmakers in Wisconsin who oppose the bill were very frank with their opposition -- saying that the bill is designed in the hope that the plaintiffs will die before their cases come to trial.

There were public apologies after that remark, but attorneys say that the law would delay justice, and funds, for people who need to have their cases resolved quickly. If the bill passes, potential plaintiffs would have to wait six months for a trial date after all the appropriate disclosures are made.

Those in favor of the bill say that it would prevent people from winning damages from active companies and then recouping more damages from asbestos trusts, which were set up to compensate victims from companies that have gone bankrupt.

Source: Associated Press, "Lawmaker defends asbestos lawsuit changes," April 4, 2013

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