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Category Archives: Mesothelioma Law
Mesothelioma Cancer Law and You
Mesothelioma cancer law hasn’t progressed the same as other laws in the United States. This was a slow fought battle that’s just now gaining steam. Today we’re going to look at a brief history of the law and its impact on society. We’re also going to discuss the law in its current form and the legislation on the books today. Hopefully we can explain some important developments and give you a working knowledge of asbestos cancer law that you can use to your advantage in your current struggles.
History of Mesothelioma Cancer Law
It’s important to note that although people were being exposed to asbestos since the early 1930s, the first lawsuits didn’t start up until the mid-1970s. This is largely due to the fact that asbestos takes decades to develop into mesothelioma. Therefore the first rush of lawsuits took much longer to fight. It was the beginning of an extremely long and arduous battle against large corporations. These first asbestos cancer lawyers had to start from scratch and build a legal opposition where there was no precedence.
One good thing these first asbestos cancer attorneys did was get Congress involved immediately. The idea was to create a trust account between the large corporations involved in these class-action lawsuits, which would pay out the astronomically large settlements that were bombarding the companies. Within a few short years there were over 300,000 asbestos cancer lawsuits bringing the judicial system to a halt. This also caused many of the country’s most lucrative production based companies to buckle under the financial pressure.
Mesothelioma Cancer Law Timeline
- Between 1977 and 1981 the beginning asbestos and mesothelioma cancer laws were taking shape. Congress created the Worker’s Compensation Payment Trust for the hundreds of thousands of new claims that were piling in.
- In 1983 the Occupational Disease Compensation Act took form. This act was a type of reform for the initial Trust account that had been created in the late 1970s.
- In 1984 the Asbestos Workers’ Recovery Act, coined AWRA was introduced.
- By 1988 The Committee for Equitable Compensation began its research on the causes and scope of the asbestos related claims in the US.
- In 1991 we saw an Ad hoc Committee on Asbestos Legislation form, which put the research of the Equitable Compensation Committee in action to begin legislation.
- Also in 1991 the Brickman Proposal was finally drafted which set up a private trust for settlements of asbestos and mesothelioma claims. It was a two-fold Act, which saw more funds for victims, but also limited liability of the corporations involved. Plaintiffs were giving up their right to ask for punitive damages, in exchange for larger settlement funds.
- 1998 was a huge year for Mesothelioma cancer law as it saw the creation of the Fairness in Asbestos Compensation Act. It spelled out the 11 main components of the Asbestos cancer law, which are still used to this day. We’ll explore those a bit more later.
- Between 1999 and 2000 Henry Hyde worked to get his Fairness in Asbestos Compensation Act passed, and created the Asbestos Compensation Fund.
From the beginning of 2000 until quite recently, there have been a few major developments in the history of Mesothelioma cancer law. The Internal Revenue Code was amended to include asbestos and mesothelioma claims. In 2003 the Senate passed the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act. This was the first manifestation of the same bill we see on the books today, establishing the private trust for asbestos claims payments. There was a plateau of progress between 2004 and 2008 with the bill being presented and rejected many times.
Asbestos Cancer Lawsuits for Mesothelioma
As we mentioned earlier, by the beginning of the 1980s there were already over 300,000 claims regarding asbestos and mesothelioma cancer. This nearly crippled the judicial system before the private trust funds were created and FAIR was finally enacted. However, some good things did come of all this anguish. There have been many reforms to the way businesses practice safety and health procedures.
The industries most widely affected by mesothelioma cancer law reforms would be ship building, construction, welding, mechanics, oil refineries, and especially railways. Although most of the major corporations using asbestos in their building practices knew that it was lethal, they did not stop using it in their factories. They also did nothing to warn the employees or even protect them from exposure. Once found libel for these asbestos related deaths, over 100 major industrial giants have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy due to the large payouts to employee claims.
We know that the corporations didn’t ban asbestos after their employees began falling ill. We also know that they didn’t protect their employees from breathing in the toxic substance. And we know that thousands of people are diagnosed every year with asbestos-related mesothelioma cancer. But do you know that asbestos still, to this day, is not a banned substance in the US? Well you do now.
Although asbestos has been systematically removed from government buildings and public schools over the years, it’s still in use around the nation. In fact, other countries like Japan and the European Union banned asbestos years ago. But the United States continues to allow its use in roofing materials, gaskets, fire-retardant components, and friction products. These materials find their way into American homes every day.
Current Legislation Related to Asbestos Cancer Law
There is a bill in the works that finally calls for the ban of asbestos in the United States. Since 2001, many reformations of the bill have gone to Congress, never to pass. In 2007 it finally passed through the Senate. The Murray Bill, or Ban Asbestos Bill of 2007, takes a 3-fold approach to banning asbestos. First it seeks to prohibit the import of asbestos-containing materials into the US. It will also cover all known forms of asbestos, including durable fibers which have previously been overlooked. Finally it is asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to oversee the removal of all asbestos in the US.
Another great component of the Murray bill is its dedication to research funding. The EPA has already joined forces with the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Department of Labor (DOL). They’re working to raise awareness of consumers and employees of the dangers of asbestos. They’re also working to remove as much asbestos material from circulation in the US.
The current legislation regarding asbestos cancer lawsuits has seen two major reforms in the past 5 years. The first of which is the disallowment of class action lawsuits. Once the private settlement fund was created, victims of asbestos-related mesothelioma were no longer allowed to seek punitive damages. However, in exchange for this sacrifice their cases are expedited through the court system. Many plaintiffs were passing away before the end of their case, so in 2005 the US enacted laws that put mesothelioma cancer lawsuits at the forefront of caseloads.
Now let’s get back to those 11 crucial legislative points for the Fairness in Asbestos Compensation Act of 1998, and how they’re still the baseline of every legislative reform to date. Below are the 11 points of contention of these bills:
I. Personal Injury compensation has historically been insufficient for mesothelioma cancer law
II. Litigating Asbestos cancer lawsuits has caused nearly 100 companies to go bankrupt
III. Taxpayers are paying dearly for the volume of asbestos cancer lawsuits on the court dockets
IV. Asbestos cancer law is arbitrary across the nation, with no precedence in monetary awards
V. Asbestos has been proven to be the cause of mesothelioma cancer and that point is no longer in dispute
VI. Statutes of limitation aren’t fair to claimants, causing many to file too early and not be able to collect settlements
VII. The backlog has caused an inability for lawsuits to fairly compensate claimants, resulting in many passing away before they have their day in court.
VIII. Less than half the claimants see their case to the end, due to death or slow due process
IX. Too many people are filing just because they were exposed, but haven’t started showing symptoms. These cases are taking precious court space from those who are already ill.
X. Punitive damages, when allowed, were giving claimants double compensation for their injuries, causing the companies to go bankrupt
XI. Class action suits include too many who haven’t begun showing symptoms, leaving less in the settlement for those who were seriously ill
Anyone who was exposed to asbestos in a work related setting should still contact an asbestos cancer lawyer to be aware of their rights. However, filing a claim before symptoms manifest could cause you to lose your chance for compensation. It will also cause someone who is already quite ill to not have their day in court. The best course of action would be to speak to someone who is well versed in mesothelioma cancer law to see what your best course of action should be.
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