Friday, February 14, 2003

The ABA House of Delegates has endorsed severe restrictions on asbestos victims' right to sue and recover damages. I reported on this impending action last week. The ABA press release underplays it significantly:
In another matter, it supported establishing medical criteria for claims for non-malignant asbestos-related disease in either state or federal courts

Makes it sound like there previously weren't any criteria for such claims, doesn't it. Here's the message from ATLA's president, Mary Alexander:

On February 11, the ABA House of Delegates endorsed the Report of the ABA'S Commission on Asbestos Litigation.

The ABA Report calls upon Congress to pass legislation blocking access to the courts for hundreds of thousands of victims who suffer from asbestos-related disease. Under the Commission's recommendation, unless individuals can meet extremely arbitrary and restrictive medical criteria and satisfy various other rigorous procedural requirements, their claims are to be summarily dismissed. The Commission's Report would eviscerate the rights of every asbestos victim who suffers from serious but non-malignant asbestos related disease. Presently, the claims of these victims are valid under the law of all fifty states.

ATLA worked hard to persuade the ABA not to abandon its historic commitment to the rule of law as enunciated by the laws of the fifty states. Members of the U.S. Senate, too, including Senators Max Baucus (D-MT) and Patty Murray (D-WA), urged the House of Delegates to step back and reconsider the Report.

In choosing to ignore these pleas and, more important, the rights of these victims, the ABA has made a bad decision. I am confident that once they learn the truth, the American people and their representatives in Congress will demand that the greedy companies that caused the asbestos epidemic be held responsible for the destruction they caused.

Apparently, none of the ABA's House of Delegates suffer from asbestosis. Tells you something about the composition of that body, too.

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