So, you’ve got mesothelioma and you’re ready to file suit against those who caused your disease – those who were responsible for your exposure. There will be much to consider before your suit is in order and ready to go. One of those things is your place of residence.
Asbestos litigation laws do indeed vary from state to state, and some of the rules about asbestos suits certainly throw the proverbial monkey wrench into the mix. For example, an Indiana mesothelioma victim is currently struggling with some of the laws in that state, in particular Indiana’s Product Liability Act, which states that there’s a 10-year cut off for suing manufacturers of asbestos-containing products. The 10-year period begins when the product “reaches the consumer”.
That law becomes a problem for anyone with mesothelioma, which can take as long as 50 years. So, electrician Larry Myers – who’s dying from mesothelioma – along with his lawyers, took on a fight against that law, attempting to have it declared unconstitutional as it applies to individuals with asbestos-caused cancer. Happily, the Supreme Court of Indiana ruled in their favor.
Myers wasn’t diagnosed with the illness until 15 years after he retired, according to an account in the Indianapolis Star. That means he was likely exposed years before that, maybe as much as 50 years ago. After all, he had worked as an electrician since the 1950s. The Product Liability Act had allowed a few exceptions to its rules, but only in cases where individuals either mined asbestos or otherwise worked with the raw form of the material.
Now that the state courts have struck down this so-called “statute of repose”, Myers and others like him can move forward with their suits, permitted because the rules now state that the cut off no longer applies to cases involving diseases like mesothelioma, which can take decades to appear.
“All it does is give them the right to actually present their case to a jury, to actually come forward with their case instead of being stopped at the courthouse doors,” said Kathy Farinas, a lawyer representing Myers. “It’s impossible for these people to look into a crystal ball and know one day they could get sick.”
Still, there were some judges who didn’t see it Myers’ way. In a sharply divided vote, it was clear that those like Chief Justice Loretta Rush disagreed with the ruling. She told the newspaper that “judges are obligated to follow precedents set by previous rulings and that the court’s reversal of its own decision will create a public perception that the law will change depending on who’s on the bench.”
State statute of limitations laws can be tricky, no matter where you live. That’s why it’s essential to contact an attorney as soon as a mesothelioma diagnosis is made to ensure that you have the best chance of being able to forge ahead with your suit. Choose someone in your state or region who is intimately familiar with laws regarding asbestos-related lawsuits and let him/her instruct you as to the best way to proceed. Delays cost dollars and can result in the total inability to sue, if the laws aren’t in your favor.