Let’s say you have mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, and you live in California. It goes without saying that you are very ill and probably getting special treatments from various medical specialists. But what if you choose, despite your fatigue and pain, to fight the companies that willfully exposed you to asbestos, causing your cancer? Do you get special treatment from them?
In California, just as in every other state, one of the most vital aspects of a mesothelioma lawsuit is the injured person’s testimony (or deposition, as it is known in the legal world). The deposition, one of the most important pieces of evidence in a mesothelioma trial, can be the difference between a lawsuit’s success and failure. While there is no disagreement on either side of the table that depositions are important, there is disagreement about how arduous they can or should be. And today, in California, depositions can be so arduous that they are extremely difficult for anyone with a debilitating illness to endure.
While most states have a limit (usually six or seven hours) on how long an attorney can interrogate someone in a deposition, California currently sets no time limits. The result is predictable: gravely ill people don’t exactly want to line up for days of questioning and may chose instead to give up their fight for justice. The asbestos companies surely know this. But the intimidation factor is not the only problem with the current lack of time limits; currently, if someone with mesothelioma dies before their deposition is completed, the asbestos companies argue that their unfinished deposition should not be used in court, thus weakening their case.
California AB 1875 would change all that.
This bill would place reasonable time limits on the interrogation process for people in civil lawsuits who are suffering from serious illnesses (likely the seven hours in place in many states). Such a time limit would not only level the playing field for mesothelioma patients in California, it would also decrease the overall cost of mesothelioma lawsuits, a benefit to both sides.
We applaud the California legislature for introducing this bill and urge them to push it forward.