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New legislation is working its way through Congress that could end up having an enormous impact on compensation recovery options for mesothelioma cancer victims seeking justice for the asbestos exposure. Recently, the House of Representatives consolidated a pair of tort law reform bills targeting class action lawsuit and asbestos bankruptcy trusts to make it harder for plaintiffs to have their day in court.

Last year, the House of Representatives passed the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act and the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2017 (FACT) but the bills stalled in Senate committees after consolidation. Even if both houses of Congress approved the bills, then President Barack Obama indicated he would have vetoed the legislation, which would not have the necessary votes to override the veto and become national law.

However, with a new Republican majority in the House and Senate, as well as the White House, the bills are poised to become law after re-submission and passage in the House of Representatives, again consolidated together. While each bills focuses on distinct areas of tort reform, the provisions of the FACT Act poses the greatest threat to victim recovery following a devastating mesothelioma cancer diagnosis.

An Alameda County, California jury recently awarded $10 million to a couple whose lives were severely impacted by defectively produced asbestos cement pipe manufactured by the defendant, CertainTeed Corporation. The complaint, filed in Alameda Superior Court, alleges that the defendant knew for years about the dangers created by its deadly products but failed to warn consumers about the dangers and even went so far as to market the material as a “safe asbestos.”

According to the complaint, the 65-year-old male plaintiff developed mesothelioma decades after working with the defendant’s defective asbestos as a laborer for a California plumbing company. The male-plaintiff used a circular saw to cut and shape the asbestos cement pipe for use in water drainage and other industrial uses.

In the course of cutting, drilling, and grinding the asbestos cement pipes, the plaintiff worked in an extremely dusty environment which caused him to unknowingly inhale the asbestos particles that ultimately lead to his cancer diagnosis. At trial, the plaintiffs’ attorney presented evidence the defendant knew since 1962 the dangers asbestos dust could pose but did nothing to warn potential users about these risks.

A Texas-federal lawmaker recently introduced a bill in Congress allegedly targeting what has been incorrectly characterized as a “lack of transparency” when it comes to who, how, and why claimants receive compensation in asbestos bankruptcy trust funds. Other lawmakers have introduced similar legislation over the years aimed at making it more difficult for mesothelioma cancer victims to follow through with filing claims to receive the vital compensation necessary to pay for medical treatment and cover lost earnings.

House Judiciary Committee and House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform member Rep. Blake Farenthold submitted H.R. 906, known as the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2017, along with cosponsors Reps. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., and Tom Marino, R-Pa. Approximately 100 bankrupt asbestos companies have created trusts over the years to compensate mesothelioma cancer victims, many of which claim they are the targets of frivolous and exaggerated claims aimed at drawing more compensation than deserved.

The bill would require mesothelioma bankruptcy trusts to submit quarterly reports on claims submitted to the organizations, while (allegedly) protecting claimant privacy and personal information at the same time. While former President Barack Obama promised to veto any such legislation while he was in office, the new Trump administration is seen by many as more sympathetic to tort reform and particularly asbestos. According to his 1997 book, “The Art of the Comeback,” President Trump praised the use of the deadly material as a fire retardant, going as far to make claims that criminal elements pushed for legislation to ban asbestos so these entities could then corner the market in asbestos abatement.

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The Arizona Supreme Court recently agreed to hear the mesothelioma cancer lawsuit of a man who claims he developed serious health issues from asbestos dust brought home by his father while working in an industrial plant. The case could set an important precedent that would allow thousands of other mesothelioma cancer victims to sue for damages and hold wrongdoers accountable for their careless actions.

Commonly referred to as “take home” exposure, this type of mesothelioma cancer lawsuits is a serious point of contention for asbestos companies trying to skirt responsibility for the harm caused to innocent people. While many states like California, Tennessee, and New Jersey have laws on the books allowing take home exposure victims to hold asbestos companies responsible, Arizona has no such law.

Survivors Continue Claim on Behalf of Deceased Relative

A recent report by an Atlanta news outlet has shed some light on the continuing epidemic of asbestos exposure plaguing Georgia citizens, even as legislators continue to ignore the threat posed by the dangerous industrial material. According to the report, state agencies routinely fail to hire licensed asbestos removers to perform delicate renovations of buildings contaminated by the cancer-causing mineral, putting hard working, ordinary people at risk of developing serious health conditions.

The report claims that many Georgia homes built before 1978 used building materials tainted with deadly asbestos, often in joint compounds used to secure wallboards. As an odorless, tasteless compound, asbestos has been described as a silent killer that catches victims by surprise decades later when deadly diseases like mesothelioma develop.

State Legislators Gut Spending for Oversight Agency

Federal investigators recently opened an inquiry into whether several asbestos clean up companies operating in Massachusetts paid crews fairly for all of the work performed renovating asbestos tainted properties in the Boston area. Over the past few years, the U.S. Justice Department has opened up several investigations into worker mistreatment and wage theft involving hard working clean up crews putting their health and safety on the line to make sure others are not exposed to deadly asbestos.

Over the past five years, Boston has seen a boom in asbestos removal projects to remove the mesothelioma-causing insulation from older building flush with the cheap and once widely used substance. However, many of these projects come with a cost to the workers doing the jobs as well as to the office employees who sometimes continue to work inside buildings while restoration goes on.

The targets of the Department of Justice investigation, Absolute Environmental and Absolute Environmental Contractors Inc., are accused of collaborating to suppress workers’ wages and turn a higher profit. According to grand jury witnesses, the companies in question paid workers two different pay rates, one for union work at about $35 per hour and another for “non-union” at a rate about half as much.

Public workers in Pennsylvania recently scored a major victory after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that state employees can hold their employers accountable for failing to take reasonable steps to prevent asbestos exposure. Typically, state agencies are immune from civil suits under the doctrine of “sovereign immunity” which generally bars claims against the state for certain injuries.

In their ruling for Geier v. Board of Public Education of the School District of Pittsburgh, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld an Allegheny County trial judge’s ruling that state employees can file mesothelioma cancer lawsuits against the governmental entities they work for. Until recently workers could still bring third party claims against other defendants like asbestos companies but were barred from filing claims against other entities like school districts.

The ruling came in part from an earlier case from 2013, Tooey v. AK Steel, that involved a complicated application of the state’s workers’ compensation laws. Under Tooey, injured workers barred from filing claims under Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation laws could bring civil suits to recover for their damages like medical bills and lost wages.

iStock-526953477-300x239.jpgOver 1,000 mesothelioma cancer victims recently settled claims against the state of Montana over allegations the plaintiffs developed the deadly asbestos-related cancer in a privately-owned asbestos mine. The settlement is the second such largest in the state’s recent history, after a $43 million resolution another group of 1,000 plaintiffs from Libby, Montana agreed to in 2011 as compensation for their own mesothelioma cancer lawsuit.

The latest settlement is the culmination of hundreds of mesothelioma cancer lawsuits filed by local residents against the state, claiming the government failed to protect them from the known dangers of the asbestos-contaminated vermiculite mine located near the town. Plaintiffs from this settlement had not been diagnosed with mesothelioma at the time of the 2011 resolution but have since developed the condition.

Hundreds of Victims Develop Mesothelioma

iStock-470913492-300x200.jpgScientists from the United Kingdom recently published a study outlining a potentially significant breakthrough in the fight against aggressive colon, lung, and breast cancers by identifying the genetic markers regulating cancer growth. In their report, the researchers demonstrated tumor growth may be decreased as much as 75% when scientists targeting one-specific gene and noted that 18 others either aid in tumor growth or can slow down the metastasization.

Furthermore, researchers identified other genes responsible for regulating the body’s immune system, which could help with a patient’s natural response to fighting mesothelioma and other cancers. By stunting tumor growth and energizing the immune system, immunotherapy researchers believe the human body itself may be the key to effectively fighting cancer and getting patients into remission.

Spns2 Gene Linked to Blocking Cancer Growth in Lab Mice

iabestosisotherasbestosdisease_27.jpgAsbestos is a white, flaky mineral used for its heat resistant properties in various industries including construction, pipe fitting, shipbuilding, and as an insulation. While its physical properties and low cost make it ideal for use in many industrial applications, the mineral is extremely toxic and has a causal link to developing mesothelioma.

Asbestos companies and manufacturers using the material knew about the dangers associates with it but continued using it for years. As a result, hundreds of thousands of victims developed mesothelioma, an extremely rare and deadly form of cancer commonly affecting tissue linings around the lungs and abdomen.

Despite all this, asbestos can still be used in certain products today, like vinyl flooring and cement shingles, though it is heavily regulated. That may soon change as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently announced adding asbestos to a list of 10 toxic chemicals the agency looks to ban in 2017.

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