Wisconsin Asbestos Lawsuits May Face Delay Under Proposed Bill

The process of pursuing compensation through an asbestos exposure lawsuit in Wisconsin could be substantially slowed down by new legislation proposed by a Republican lawmaker, which seeks to require plaintiffs to tell the court how many businesses they plan to eventually sue. 

The legislation was introduced by Representative Andre Jacque, who claims that the bill would provide transparency and allow judges and juries to better be able to fairly divide liability among all of the parties involved. However, opponents of the bill argue that it is designed to slow down asbestos litigation, likely delaying the process long enough that many victims will die off.

The bill, as written, would require a judge to order a plaintiff to disclose all of the claims he or she has filed or plans to file within a month of filing a complaint. The bill then includes a mandatory six month delay before a judge could schedule a trial.

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Mesothelioma Lawsuits

Exposure to asbestos can cause the development of mesothelioma. Lawsuits have been filed nationwide against asbestos manufacturers.

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In many cases, particularly in mesothelioma lawsuits, plaintiffs have a very short life-expectancy after they are diagnosed with the condition, which could be caused by exposure to asbestos that happened decades earlier. Asbestos-related illnesses have a long latency period and once they are detected, the cancer is often in advanced stages.

The only known cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos or breathing asbestos fibers, and individuals are often entitled to financial compensation from companies that manufactured or used the products that caused the disease. In many cases, lawsuits involve large numbers of defendants and the process of investigating and identifying all potential defendants requires substantial discovery and investigation.

Asbestos litigation is the longest-running mass tort in U.S. history, with more than 600,000 people having filed a lawsuit against more than 6,000 defendants after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis or other diseases that were allegedly caused by inhaling asbestos fibers.

Asbestos was widely used in a variety of manufacturing and construction applications throughout the last century, with use peaking in 1973. Most uses of asbestos were banned in the mid-1980s.

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