Ohioans may soon have a greater uphill battle if they seek justice following a mesothelioma diagnosis.
Recent news reports indicate the state senate has approved a measure that makes it more difficult for mesothelioma victims to take their cases to court. Supporters countered that the measure “evens the playing field.” You can bet the “supporters” are not innocent citizens victimized by this terrible cancer.
Our plaintiff mesothelioma lawyers understand that House Bill 380, sponsored by a Cincinnati Republican, would require that a person who files an asbestos claim must list every other entity they previously sued – including federal bankruptcy trusts. Not only that, but plaintiffs would have to provide detailed and specific evidence that they used in those cases. Further, if a defendant had some reason to suspect the plaintiff was withholding pertinent information or that he or she did not sue another entity they should have, the defendant could petition the judge to delay the trial.
The proposed law stems from the mistaken belief that there are an abundance of mesothelioma patients who are attempting to game the system by suing as many different entities as they can, in an effort to collect multiple damage awards. Supporters say they want to prevent “double-dipping” by limiting the amount a defendant should be made to pay to the share of the judgment for which the defendant is deemed by a jury or judge to be at fault.
However, the truth of the matter is that mesothelioma patients and their families don’t have much time left. The disease takes years to develop, and once it is diagnosed, it progresses rapidly and is fatal. Overwhelmingly, that sought by those who are dying is not greed, but justice. And the sad fact is that the companies responsible too often engage in an endless series of delays. In fact, extensive delays are already a primary tactic of these firms.
So to allow them additional freedoms in this regard – while placing extensive obligations and restrictions on plaintiffs – is deeply troubling.
This comes after legislation passed a decade ago which also increased the bar for mesothelioma sufferers to take their cases to court. At the time that measure passed, there were about 40,000 asbestos cases that were pending in Ohio courts. Roughly 90 percent of those ended up being dismissed following passage of that law because plaintiffs weren’t able to meet their new burden of proof.
Some have called this newest measure further evidence of a “war on Ohio workers.”
If this measure does pass in Ohio, we might expect to see plaintiffs who might otherwise file there seeking a way to file in a different jurisdiction. We certainly hope this is not a move that will catch on in other states.
Still, it’s not final yet. It’s pending final approval of the House for slight changes made in the Senate, after which it will reach the governor’s desk. This is expected to happen just before the close of the two-year legislative session.
Help for mesothelioma victims can be found at The Ferraro Law Firm by calling 1-800-275-3332. Offices in Miami, Washington, D.C., and New York City.
Asbestos lawsuit bill passes in Senate; opponents say measure makes it tougher for Ohioans in court, Dec. 6, 2012, By Jim Provance, Toledo Blade
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