Archive for December, 2012

OEC Opposes Bill that Slams Courtroom Door

Mesothelioma. There is no cure for this aggressive and deadly form of cancer, of which the primary risk factor is asbestos exposure. Asbestos related deaths are among the biggest environmental health casualties over the past Century.

Many victims die within a year of diagnosis.  That is why time is of the essence when it comes to the judicious and fair consideration of claims brought by its victims. House Bill 380 (Representative Blessing), however, willfully and significantly obstructs the ability of asbestos exposure victims to seek compensation for their injuries. It allows Defense attorneys to file for perpetual continuances of court proceedings. It makes all bankruptcy claims admissible, even if hearsay. And permits defense attorneys to dictate how a claimant’s case shall be handled. This extreme and unjustified assault on victim’ rights should be trashed, not treasured.

OEC submitted written Opponent Testimony on the legislation, in Today’s 8th and final hearing.  Over the past year, both House and Senate Judiciary Committees have heard compelling testimony from experienced asbestos attorneys and the Asbestos Victims Coalition showing that the impact of this bill would slam the courtroom door on victims.

“This bill is designed to give a handout to the asbestos industry while robbing dying cancer victims of their constitutional rights,” said Anthony Gallucci, President of the Asbestos Victims Coalition in a Monday press release. “The asbestos industry should be held accountable for the thousands of deaths and injuries.”

No state has drastically limited the rights of asbestos victims to this degree, but Ohio appears to soon be the first. After being stalled in the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Spring, a switch of Committee membership permitted the bill to pass in the committee with a 6-4 margin.  It most likely will find its way to the Senate Floor later this week.

HB380 requires claimants in asbestos tort actions to make certain disclosures pertaining to asbestos trust claims that have been submitted to asbestos trust entities for the purpose of compensating the claimant for asbestos exposure.

Among other provisions, the bill also permits a defendant in the action to file a motion for an order to stay the proceedings setting forth the identities of asbestos trusts not previously disclosed by the claimant against which the claimant has not made any asbestos trust claims but against which the defendant in good faith believes the claimant may make a successful claim.

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