New Legislature Attempts to Suppress Rights of West Virginian Workers and Families

Written by on February 12, 2015 in Mesothelioma

Thousands of West Virginians have faced the terrible fate of contracting lung cancer or mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos. The average person who gets a mesothelioma diagnosis has less than two years to live. Thankfully, those folks were at least able to exercise their right to fight for compensation from the companies that knowingly exposed them or their loved ones to asbestos.

Today, as incredible as it sounds, the newly elected West Virginia legislature is attempting to suppress the rights of West Virginians to seek compensation from these companies by pushing for approval of Senate Bill 411.

This is not hyperbole – if Senate Bill 411 becomes law, West Virginian workers and their families will be severely limited in filing a claim against these companies. And, in many cases their right will be eliminated.

How can anyone who claims to represent West Virginian working families support such a radical idea as to suppress the right of a worker to sue a company that knowingly exposed him or her to asbestos and the risk of acquiring mesothelioma? Is it justice to eliminate the right to seek compensation for the housewife who for years managed the household and washed countless loads of laundry that unbeknownst to her were covered in asbestos fibers? Or, the innocent child who hugged her dad every night after he came home from work, without knowing the danger she was facing?

The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals established a panel of judges to deal with certain claims such as asbestos. The judges and lawyers from both sides worked out a Case Management Order to place emphasis on the sickest victims so their trial would commence relatively quickly, while those who are expected to live longer would wait a little longer. It also provides procedural requirements for both sides. Senate Bill 411 would not only establish delays that effectively stay or stop West Virginians suffering from mesothelioma and other forms of asbestos-related cancer from getting their day in court, in many cases the Bill would provide immunity for wrongdoers.

Mesothelioma is an incurable cancer caused only by asbestos. Victims often have less than 18 months to live from the time of diagnosis. Many of the companies responsible for this exposure knowingly failed to warn or prevent such exposures. The Senate Bill 411 approach to the litigation favors the alleged wrongdoer and ignores the carefully crafted orders that outline requirements on both sides. The West Virginia legislature should not provide immunity to wrongdoers at the expense of innocent victims of asbestos exposure.

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