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26 February 2018

Indiana: New Bill Could Rob Asbestos Disease Victims of Rights to Seek Justice


Blayne Kinart, a 58-year-old Canadian and former
chemical worker in Sarnia, Ontario, died in 2004
from mesothelioma, a cancer associated with 
asbestos exposure.
(Choice of photo by Editor,"Towards Better Health")
The new Indiana bill seeks to undue the Supreme Court ruling in the Myers case and again impose that cutoff, or what in legal terms is called a statute of repose. That means no one could sue a manufacturer if more than 10 years had passed since the person first became exposed to asbestos.  The problem is, mesothelioma and other diseases caused from exposure to asbestos can take decades to present itself, sometimes as many as 50 years, according to the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization. Asbestos disease is rarely diagnosed within 10 years of exposure.

'Tragic consequences': new bill could rob asbestos disease victims of rights to seek justice
by Sarah Bowman, sarah.bowman@indystar.com, 
25 February 2018

Maria Adams of Morgantown talks about the husband she lost to mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure, and her desire to drop legislation that would make it harder for Hoosiers to take legal action. Robert Scheer/IndyStar

His eyes flickered open, but just briefly.

The TV hummed softly in the background, probably on the westerns channel, Larry Myers' favorite, but his wife, Loa, can't quite remember.

"Do you need anything?" she asked, more out of love than any expectation he would answer or that she could actually do something.

Larry was tired, his eyelids heavy.

Heavier still were his lungs. Each breath waged a war against the foreign fibers that had invaded his body and the tumors claiming their territory — each breath a losing battle.

Yet lying in the hospital bed, the machine's slow beeps betraying the hopes that Loa would be able to bring her husband home, Larry was still a winner. Just one year before, the lifelong Hoosier and his wife had waged another battle in the court rooms of Indiana.

This one was for the right to hold accountable those who knowingly produced and exposed him to the asbestos fibers that shackled his lungs. For the right to seek justice for the mesothelioma cancer that, just hours after Loa posed her question, claimed Larry's life at 79 years old.

The state's Supreme Court agreed with the Myers in its March 2016 opinion. That decision reaffirmed a previous court ruling that said a provision in the Indiana Product Liability Act, which set a cutoff period for when lawsuits could be brought against manufacturers, did not apply to latent diseases such as those caused by asbestos exposure.

"I think Larry knew that there wasn't much they could do for him, but there's other people that are going to suffer with this disease," Loa said, sitting recently at her kitchen table in the home where she and Larry lived for the last 40 years of their 60-year marriage. "If anything, this fight was for everybody, not just for him."

But now, nearly two years after that ruling and one year after Larry's death, a bill is working its way through the state's General Assembly that could effectively kill not only future asbestos lawsuits but also likely derail the more than 50 cases currently pending in the state.

Here's why: The bill seeks to undue the Supreme Court ruling in the Myers case and again impose that cutoff, or what in legal terms is called a statute of repose. That means no one could sue a manufacturer if more than 10 years had passed since the person first became exposed to asbestos.

The problem is, mesothelioma and other diseases caused from exposure to asbestos can take decades to present itself, sometimes as many as 50 years, according to the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization. Asbestos disease is rarely diagnosed within 10 years of exposure.

And even if that were the case, the law also states that a medical diagnosis of an asbestos disease is only valid for the purpose of taking legal action if that diagnosis is made 15 years after the first exposure — or 5 years past the cutoff to sue.

Continue reading:
https://www.indystar.com/story/news/2018/02/25/tragic-consequences-new-bill-could-rob-sbestos-disease-victims-robbed-rights-and-ability-seek-justic/334141002/

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