S.B. 1125 Would Not Fairly Compensate Victims of Asbestos Diseases
WASHINGTON, D.C.-April 2, 2004-Cancer victims and their families visited the capitol recently to lobby against the Frist/Hatch asbestos bill, legislation that would enrich asbestos-affiliated companies at the expense of those with asbestos-related diseases. They came from all over the country-widows, widowers, parents, and those patients who were still well enough to protest.
Workers Exposed to Asbestos
Lewis Zavacky of St. Clairsville, Ohio, was a plasterer who worked with asbestos-containing mixes and joint compounds. He now suffers from pleural mesothelioma, an incurable cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs and chest cavity. "I feel robbed and violated," he said. "They won't give me my health back."
Thomas Langved is another worker with mesothelioma. A driller in various oilfields, he was exposed to asbestos in gaskets, rope packing, boilers, and friction products. He hopes to live to see the marriage of his youngest daughter, but knows that his time may be short.
Larry Hollis had worked as a maintenance man. He is married, with two sons and a granddaughter. He returned to college and graduated the year he was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, a form of the cancer that destroys the lining of the stomach cavity.
Secondhand Asbestos Exposure
Not all asbestos victims are exposed to the substance in the workplace. Keith Marshall, for example, had contact with asbestos brought home on the clothing of his father, an engineer who worked in mechanical and boiler rooms across Wisconsin. Keith now has mesothelioma that was caused by this exposure to asbestos.
One of the saddest stories about the hazards of asbestos does not involve on-the-job exposure. Stephanie Petitlubin was only 9 years old when she was diagnosed with mesothelioma. After undergoing many chemotherapy sessions as well as surgery, she died at the age of 12. Stephanie had lived in an apartment building that had deteriorating asbestos materials, including ceiling, drywall, and vinyl asbestos floor tiles.
Why the Frist/Hatch Bill Is Bad for Asbestos Victims
Under the Frist/Hatch asbestos bill, S.B. 1125, many cases such as these that are now making their way through the court system would be wiped out. Instead, asbestos victims would receive compensation through a government-regulated asbestos trust fund that is inadequate to cover the cost of all asbestos claims. The bill also creates a new bureaucracy that would force many sick claimants to endure lengthy waits before receiving any damage awards.
Charlie Moneypenny, a former railroad worker, is yet another mesothelioma patient. He summarizes the problem faced by many with asbestos diseases: "I want to make sure there's enough to cover my medical bills and give them [my family] a new start on life, if I don't make it. A big part of that new life will depend on whether my court case is allowed to proceed. I think this trust fund idea of Senator Hatch's is unfair."
Hatch/Frist Bill To Go Before the Senate Floor this Month
Organized labor and some Democrats also think the Hatch/Frist bill is unfair. Despite their opposition, Sen. Bill Frist is expected to bring S.B. 1125 to the Senate floor on April 19, according to newspaper accounts (Forbes, March 23, 2004).
Brayton Purcell has been fighting hard against this bill. We urge you to do the same. Please call or write your Senators to ask them to vote "No" on S.B. 1125, which is little more than a bailout for asbestos manufacturers and their insurance companies. If you have any questions about asbestos and your current legal options, please feel free to contact us. We have been successfully handling asbestos litigation for over 20 years, and we are committed to helping those suffering from asbestos diseases.