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House bill would add more requirements for plaintiffs in asbestos exposure cases

Asbestos exposure causes mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and even ovarian cancer.

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A bill in the Alabama legislature would add more requirements that a plaintiff must fulfill when pursuing litigation for exposure to asbestos.

Sponsored by Rep. Troy Stubbs, R-Wetumpka, the legislation, HB92, requires an exposed person seeking an asbestos action to fulfill an information form down to the specifics as outlined in the bill.

According to the bill the requirements are as followed:

  • The exposed person’s name, address, date of birth, Social Security number, marital status, smoking history, occupation, and current and past worksites and employers, and if the exposed person alleges exposure to asbestos through another person, the identity of the other person, and that person’s relationship to the exposed person.
  • The asbestos-related disease claimed to exist.
  • An affirmation that the plaintiff and his or her counsel have conducted an investigation into all potential sources of the exposed person’s exposure to asbestos.
  • The identity, with specificity, of each and every source of exposure to asbestos that is available or known to the plaintiff or his or her counsel for the exposed person and any person through which the plaintiff alleges exposure, including all asbestos-containing products to which the exposed person was exposed, whether from bankrupt entities or otherwise, and all premises at which the exposed person werewas exposed to asbestos; 
  • The specific location and manner of each alleged exposure to asbestos; 
  •  The beginning and ending dates of each alleged exposure;
  • The specific connection of each defendant to the alleged exposure to asbestos.
  •  The name, address, and relationship to the exposed person of each individual who is knowledgeable regarding the exposed person’s exposures to asbestos.

And if a defendant is not identified properly by these requirements they will be allowed to dismissed from the asbestos action.

During a House Judiciary committee meeting on March 20, Stubbs explained the reasoning for the bill and how he has been talking to supporters and opponents of the legislation to make the bill better.

“The bill primarily focuses on limiting the extended list of defendants and putting small businesses and others in a position where they have to retain liability insurance or legal counsel,” Stubbs said. “And then subsequently at a later time they are dropped from the litigation.”

It is unclear who Stubbs has been discussing the legislation with or what specific incident may have inspired the legislation as he did not name either during the committee hearing.

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APR contacted Stubbs via phone and left a message seeking to discuss the legislation but Stubbs has not responded.  

Asbestos exposure causes mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and even ovarian cancer among other illnesses. It typically take years, often up to 20-30 years, before symptoms of asbestos exposure begin to arise. Under Stubbs’ bill that individual would have to remember specific details about where they may have been exposed and the timeline of exposure. 

The EPA announced in March they ruled to ban the use of asbestos as the deadly chemical was still used in several products. Michael Regan, EPA administrator, praised the decisions to ban the toxin.

“With today’s ban, EPA is finally slamming the door on a chemical so dangerous that it has been banned in over 50 countries,’’ Regan said. “This historic ban is more than 30 years in the making, and it’s thanks to amendments that Congress made in 2016 to fix the Toxic Substances Control Act.”

The bill passed the House Judiciary committee and was placed on the House calendar.

Patrick Darrington is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected].

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