Maryland lawmakers recently convened hearings to delve into why potentially tens of thousands of asbestos cancer victims have yet to have their day in court years after developing serious, life-threatening conditions and filing suit to recover much needed compensation. Those meetings primarily focused on courts in Baltimore city, the epicenter of the state’s mesothelioma crisis, where thousands of hardworking men and women developed the rare and deadly lung cancer working in the city’s shipping industry.
According to reporting by the Baltimore Sun, neither side could agree on exactly just how many plaintiffs had delays in their case or for how long. State senator Robert A. “Bobby” Zirkin, Chairman of Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee, reportedly called the meeting to try and get to the bottom of whether the city’s court system has made any progress in the past three years in clearing the backlog of claims brought by individuals harmed while working in Baltimore’s ports, shipbuilding centers, and other construction trades.
Representatives from one of Baltimore’s largest and well-known plaintiffs law firms estimated that there could be as many as 22,000 active asbestos injury lawsuits awaiting trial and an additional 7,000 inactive cases in which the plaintiffs reserved their right to file suit if their conditions worsened. While city administrative judges testified that the new system implemented in 2014 was resolving cases at a higher rate than previous years, the backlog could still take decades to clear even with every side fully staffed.