Veterans Mesothelioma Rights Hurt By New State Bill
Veterans mesothelioma rights will be drastically hurt by a proposed new state bill. The legislation now pending in the California State Legislature disproportionately impacts veterans, who comprise 30% of all mesothelioma patients, and their families. This mean-spirited piece of asbestos legislation, motivated by sheer corporate greed, takes away the rights of all of the thousands of Americans who are sick and dying from the lethal effects of asbestos exposure. But veterans stand to lose the most if this bill passes.
Delay is the point of this bill – delay which assures that those most ill will die before their case reaches judgment.
How AB 597 Takes Away Veterans Mesothelioma Rights
Veterans mesothelioma is among the most tragic of all. These brave Americans who stepped up and did their duty for our country often put themselves in harm’s way and made sacrifices on behalf of all of us. Yet they were carelessly and needlessly exposed to asbestos. Now many of them are suffering from mesothelioma, a fatal cancer for which the only known cause is asbestos exposure.
Proposed legislation Assembly Bill 597 (AB 597) would all but eliminate the rights of asbestos victims to a fair trial and just compensation. One third of those affected would be veterans.
Bill Harming Veterans with Mesothelioma Backed by Corporate Group
Veterans and others suffering from mesothelioma should know that AB 597 is being sponsored by Assemblyman Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova). They also need to know who is really behind AB 597. It is an evil lobbying group that carries out the wishes of corporate interests. It is called the American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC for short. ALEC — composed of thousands of mostly Republican state legislators and financed by several hundred corporations – is a corporate front group that promotes so-called “model legislation” to state legislatures. ALEC focuses on stripping consumers and workers of their rights in order to maximize profits for corporate members. It is funded by the Koch brothers, who own Georgia-Pacific, a major asbestos defendant.
How You Can Help Us Stop AB 597
At Kazan Law we are doing everything we can to defeat this new asbestos legislation that would be so detrimental to asbestos victims. But we need your help. Time is of the essence. This bill will be heard for the first time on April 28 and we want to stop it now by encouraging the author to drop the bill.
Please take a moment and write to State Assembly Member Cooley. There are three forms of letters you may find useful. Choose the one that reflects whether you are writing as an individual, a U.S. Armed Services veteran, or on behalf of an organization (the letter from organizations is pre-addressed to the Chair of the Assembly Judiciary Committee and if you send it there, your organization will be listed among the many others opposed to AB 597). All are available on our website. Simply click the link.
Veterans with Mesothelioma Are 30% of All Mesothelioma Patients
There are 25 million US vets. Although they represent just 8% of our population, they are an astonishing 30% of all known mesothelioma deaths. California ranks first in the country overall for mesothelioma and asbestos related deaths and is alone home to almost 2 million vets. These vets were often exposed while actively serving our country.
Asbestos was once used by the military in electric wiring insulation, brake pads and clutch pads on jeeps, tanks and aircraft. Military housing and other buildings on bases were constructed with building materials containing asbestos. The veterans most at risk are those who served in the Navy. All US battle ships commissioned between 1930 and 1970 contained tons of asbestos insulation in engine rooms, miles of piping running throughout the ships, and in the doors and walls as fireproofing measures.
Veterans Mesothelioma Cases Lose Right to Fair Speedy Trial
Veterans mesothelioma, like other cases of mesothelioma, does not wait for a court date. Once mesothelioma is diagnosed, typically decades after the damaging asbestos exposure occurred, the patient usually will only survive for a year.
Because mesothelioma victims die soon after diagnosis, they are often eligible for a speedy civil trial. But a speedy trial means nothing if the victim is unable to prepare for court due to delays required by AB 597.
AB 597 forces veterans with mesothelioma and other mesothelioma victims to delay seeking a trial until they have filed claims with every single asbestos trust. Asbestos trusts were set up to protect the assets of companies guilty of asbestos exposure. They declared bankruptcy and set aside an amount of cash for the victims of asbestos exposure they knowingly harmed. But the trusts pay only pennies on the dollar. There are over 60 possible trusts and asbestos victims may be eligible for a relatively small number of these but are required by AB 597 to submit statements under penalty of perjury that each asbestos trust has been evaluated for a potential claim. Delaying the trial date to do this often means death before the court judgment.
Also, requiring every plaintiff to file against every trust – even if the plaintiff doesn’t want to do so – ultimately reduces the amount of funds in the trust that a veteran might seek.
Veterans Mesothelioma Justice Delayed is Justice Denied
For veterans with mesothelioma who are ill and dying, justice delayed is justice denied. In California, unlike many other jurisdictions, if the person bringing a lawsuit for injuries dies before the case is complete, there is no recovery for the pain and suffering the victim endured. The mesothelioma veteran’s family receives far less in compensation. And the corporate bad guys who poisoned the veteran are shielded from full accountability and receive a windfall by the delays AB 597 creates. Veterans mesothelioma deserves justice and compassion not legislative obstacles.