A new bill will be presented for approval by the state legislature in Ohio this week, which could further limit the rights of sick and injured people to pursue compensation through an asbestosis lawsuit in the state.
According to the Associated Press, Republican lawmakers in Ohio are working on obtaining approval for a bill that will require plaintiffs filing lawsuits alleging asbestosis or another asbestos-related injury, to disclose details about claims made against trusts set up for bankrupt companies which manufactured products containing the toxic fibers.
Exposure to asbestos has been linked to a number of serious and potentially fatal conditions, including asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. While asbestosis and lung cancer typically require prolonged exposure to asbestos, mesothelioma has been documented to occur with only a short period of exposure.
At one time, the Ohio asbestos litigation dockets contained one of the largest backlogs of cases in the United States. However, in recent years the legislature has taken steps to reduce the number of asbestosis lawsuits and cases filed by individuals alleging injuries caused by asbestos that have not been diagnosed with mesothelioma.
In 2004, a law was passed requiring plaintiffs to produce testimony from a medical expert who personally treated them and found that their health has been substantially impaired by exposure to asbestos.
Following an October 2008 ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court, which found that the 2004 law could be applied retroactively to cases filed before the legislature enacted the law, over 30,000 Ohio asbestos lawsuits were dismissed by the courts.
In response to the latest push by Ohio Republican lawmakers to further limit asbestos exposure lawsuits in the state, Governor Ted Strickland has indicated that he will oppose and likely veto any attempt by the legislature to further limit people’s right to seek justice and redress under the law.
Legislators who will introduce the bill this week, claim that it will not prevent the filing of claims, but is designed to prevent claimants from double-dipping by alleging different or conflicting facts in claims against the bankruptcy trusts and in their asbestos litigation filed in court.