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Ohio to Be First State to Restrict the Rights of Asbestos Victims
When entering into a mesothelioma lawsuit, it is a common practice to identify multiple companies that are responsible for a person’s asbestos exposure. After all, most people who were exposed on a commercial or industrial job site came into contact with asbestos products from many different companies. During the discovery period, extensive evidence is considered to determine which companies are liable for the person’s asbestos exposure. However, if a company has filed bankruptcy, the person diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease must file a claim with a bankruptcy trust instead of pursuing a traditional trial. A person’s entire claim, including bankruptcy trust claims and the companies listed on the lawsuit, are considered when determining the compensation that the victim is owed.
The asbestos companies, however, like to paint this process as “double dipping,” even though it is only fair that a person who has been exposed to asbestos should be able to file a bankruptcy claim against a company responsible for his or her exposure in addition to pursuing a lawsuit against asbestos companies that are still in business. A new bill headed to the Ohio governor, however, will restrict asbestos victims from doing just that.
The Asbestos Lawsuit Disclosure Bill is intended to stop “duplicate” lawsuits over on-the-job asbestos exposure in the state of Ohio. This is misleading as bankruptcy claims are not treated the same as an asbestos company involved in a lawsuit. Also, when a bankruptcy trust determines the amount of compensation a person will get, the amount is significantly reduced compared to what they would likely have received in trial. The trust also considers the amount that the person has been awarded in court, and makes adjustments accordingly.
Governor John Kasich stated that he would sign the measure when it reaches his desk. The bill will require workers to divulge all asbestos claims filed for them or face perjury charges. If the bill is signed into law, it will make Ohio the first state to enforce such claims restrictions.
The Asbestos Lawsuit Disclosure Bill is nothing more than an attempt by the asbestos companies to reduce their responsibility and avoid compensating asbestos victims.
Asbestos companies have long sought to restrict the rights of those struggling with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases and minimize the company’s financial responsibility. State legislation has been introduced in Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana and West Virginia, but has failed to pass. This past year, a national bill, called the FACT Act, was introduced in the federal congress, but also failed to pass.
The mesothelioma attorneys at Baron and Budd have actively fought against legislation that would restrict the rights of asbestos victims. Baron and Budd shareholder Burton LeBlanc was the only person to speak out against the Louisiana Bankruptcy Trust bill, and was integral in defeating the bill.
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or other asbestos related disease, learn more about your legal rights here.