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Missouri State House Passes Bill to Limit Compensation for Mesothelioma Cancer Victims

The Missouri state House of Representatives recently approved legislation that could impact the amount of compensation mesothelioma cancer victims could receive for their claims when filing lawsuits against defendants. With Missouri juries handing down substantial verdicts to plaintiffs harmed by the deadly products developed by asbestos companies, lobbyists for the business and insurance companies have long eyed the state for so-called "tort reform" to limit compensation to plaintiffs.


As part of the effort to limit plaintiffs' access to justice, the Missouri House approved a bill meant to force mesothelioma plaintiffs to disclose whether or not they have filed administrative claims with asbestos bankruptcy trusts. The Missouri Senate is expected to take up the legislation soon and the state may join a growing list of other states that have already passed these asbestos claims transparency laws promulgated by the likes of pro business and insurance lobbyists like the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.


Asbestos bankruptcy trusts were created by companies that were no longer solvent but needed a way to release themselves from legal liability in order to qualify for federal bankruptcy protections. Asbestos companies set aside tens of billions of dollars for mesothelioma cancer victims to file administrative claims with and are often seen as a much more expedient way for plaintiffs to receive the compensation they need to pay for vital medical treatment.


Similar versions of the latest bill circulated through committees in both chambers of the Missouri state legislature last year but stalled after neither chamble was able to advance their bills before deadlines. Unfortunately for plaintiffs across the state, the House has already accomplished its goal with months to spare before deadlines approach for the Senate.


In addition to requiring asbestos cancer plaintiffs disclose to the courts whether or not they have filed claims with bankruptcy trusts, the bill would impose a 45-day waiting period while courts review any information provided. Those weeks in waiting constitute a valuable amount of time many mesothelioma cancer patients simply do not have as most succumb to their condition just two years after receiving their diagnosis.


A lesser-known portion of the bill would also require the asbestos bankruptcy trusts themselves to disclose information on how many claims were made in a certain time period and the amount of each claim. However, many trusts already do this voluntarily and the exact motivation for requiring trusts to do so is not precisely known. Whatever the reasons, the bill is one of the latests assaults on innocent victims looking to make themselves whole again following a mesothelioma diagnosis.


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