As readers know, mesothelioma victims often develop the disease decades after being exposed to asbestos. The significant delay between exposure and diagnosis can make it very difficult for victims and their families to hold negligent parties liable in court. Even when you can trace exposure back to its source - an employer, for instance - there are no guarantees that the company is still in business.
Another factor working against victims is the lengthy legal process. Lawsuits take considerable time, which is something most mesothelioma suffers do not have. The process can be even longer when defendant companies purposely drag out proceedings by filing erroneous motions and using other clerical stalling tactics. And many companies are even pushing for legislation that makes it easier to engage in these underhanded tactics.
Earlier this month, a South Carolina woman penned an op-ed urging her state lawmakers to vote down a bill currently under consideration. It is called the "Transparency in Private Attorney Contracts Act." According to the woman who wrote the article: "the bill gives [defendant] companies new powers to endlessly delay a family's case by submitting numerous motions that slow the process."
When her mother was diagnosed with mesothelioma at the relatively young age of 56, the woman experienced the ravages of the disease as well as the financial burden of medical bills and funeral expenses. She said her family was able to eventually cover these expenses after getting a lawyer and reaching settlements with some of the companies responsible for exposing her mother to asbestos.
If the new legislation passes, however, other victims and their families may have a much harder time pursuing timely compensation (or any compensation, for that matter).
If this proposed legislation in South Carolina sounds familiar, it might be because federal lawmakers are considering the Furthering Asbestos Claims Transparency Act, or FACT. It is also similar to a bill just proposed in Utah, which we wrote about last week.
Giant corporations cannot defend themselves in litigation based on the real details and facts. There is no more denying the harm that they have caused. Instead, these corporations are lobbying to change the laws governing asbestos litigation, and they seem to have purchased the support of many politicians in the process.