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New Missouri Bill Would Prevent Future Mesothelioma Lawsuits while Increasing Worker’s Compensation Payouts
There have been quite a few shake-ups in state legislatures over the past year regarding asbestos, asbestos disease and mesothelioma lawsuits. The State of Ohio passed the controversial Asbestos Lawsuit Disclosure Bill that severely limits the rights of asbestos claimants. In the State of Washington, a bill is headed to the governor’s office that will require products containing asbestos to be clearly labeled and companies to be penalized for failure to comply. Now, the State Legislature of Missouri is considering a bill that would increase worker’s compensation payouts for people who have been subject to asbestos exposure and developed mesothelioma as a result.
Missouri State Senator Scott Rupp sponsored the bill that will improve the workers’ compensation system and replenish the state’s Second Injury Fund. Additionally, the bill would place occupational diseases under the workers’ compensation system. This would eliminate an employee’s ability to sue for illness related to an asbestos-related disease but would immediately provide compensation for occupational diseases due to toxic exposure.
Although the proposed bill would cease future mesothelioma lawsuits stemming from new cases of work-related asbestos disease, there are provisions that would increase the payouts under the Second Injury Fund for toxic diseases such as mesothelioma. For all other diseases that fall under workers’ compensation in Missouri, the employer is required to pay, in lump sum, 200 percent of the state’s average weekly wage for 100 weeks. Under the new bill, mesothelioma patients would be paid 300 percent of the state’s average weekly wage for 191 weeks.
While the increase in standard worker’s compensation payouts is at least a nod to the severity of asbestos exposure, it does nothing to justly equate compensation to those affected by mesothelioma to critical factors such as the person’s individual circumstances and the knowledge, or lack thereof, of the company responsible for the toxic exposure.
The bill has passed through the Senate and is currently in the House Rules Committee. Missouri Governor Jay Nixon is expected to sign the bill when it reaches his desk. According to Missouri State Representative Diane Franklin, Governor Nixon was previously opposed to the bill until the provisions were added that increased the payouts for mesothelioma patients. Governor Nixon’s family has been affected by mesothelioma in the past.
The mesothelioma law firm of Baron and Budd will be closely monitoring the progress of Missouri Senate Bill 1 as well as delivering any other information regarding changes in state asbestos and mesothelioma laws. For over 35 years, the firm has been handling mesothelioma lawsuits and is fully invested in the interests in those who have been affected by asbestos exposure.
For more information about what Baron and Budd can do for you, visit our website.