Company Lobbies to Limit Asbestos Liability, a Lesson to Mass. Lawmakers

February 15, 2012

A company that manufactures cans in Minnesota is attempting to use lobbying efforts to try to shield itself from asbestos lawsuits after workers have complained of getting sick, the Star Tribune is reporting.

This can be a lesson to Massachusetts lawmakers who must deal with the problems here associated with constituents who are exposed to asbestos in New England. While there are no longer active vermiculite mines that may contain asbestos, that doesn't mean people here couldn't be exposed - or haven't been already.
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Our Boston mesothelioma lawyers understand that mesothelioma doesn't get the same time of attention that other forms of cancer may get. It is fatal, though, and there is no known cure.

Companies that have old factories or old manufacturing plants often are faced with the problem of having asbestos it the walls or in piping. This can cause employees to be exposed to asbestos, which in turn causes long-term health problems.

In Minnesota, a company that has three manufacturing plants is hoping to change state law that could limit the number of asbestos claims stemming from a merger in the 1960s. The company says current laws have caused it to have to pay $700 million in claims and lawyer fees on top of $1 billion in borrowing costs associated with the litigation.

Lawyers say the proposal, which is up for a vote in the state senate, is the company's way of trying to skirt the rules and get the law changed so they can protect themselves from lawsuits. Experts say that if the law is changed to help this company, it could affect all companies and set a bad precedent for future lawsuits.

The company currently has about 150 asbestos cases statewide, with most being filed in the last 15 years. In the last year, only a few have been filed, lawmakers say. Company officials say they hope the law change will help their image with Wall Street.

Analysts believe that current litigation could take decades to be completed and it could go on into the future because health problems with asbestos exposure can take decades to detect. Future victims who don't know they're sick could end up being affected if this measure is passed.

This is a good lesson for Massachusetts lawmakers because it's possible that Massachusetts residents could attempt to bring similar litigation here. Big companies with many employees, including past employees who may have been harmed by asbestos exposure, may file future lawsuits.

The tricky thing with mesothelioma is that workers may not find out about the cancer until years in the future, even though they were employees decades ago. Therefore, if politicians attempt to help these companies -- which may have put these workers at risk by letting there be asbestos in their buildings -- by changing the laws, it could mean major problems in the future.

If employees aren't able to get the help they need to pay for major medical bills, they may have nowhere to turn. It's important that the laws are in place to help employees who may have been harmed or killed because of company negligence.

The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman provides representation for victims exposed to asbestos who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston and throughout Massachusetts and New England. Call 1-877-617-5333 for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights.

More Blog Entries:

Libby Asbestos Victims May Get $19.5 Million For Mesothelioma: February 8, 2012

Additional Resources:

Asbestos victims oppose company's push for liability shield in state law, by Brad Schrade, Star Tribune