Following the lead of federal legislation making its way through Congress, Iowa’s Senate approved a bill last week 27-22 aimed at restricting “double-dipping” asbestos-related liability lawsuits, according to The Des Moines Register.
With heated opposition from Democratic Senators, the Republican-controlled Senate passed the bill, which would require plaintiffs to meet deadlines, including the disposition of each asbestos trust claim and a host of other information, within 90 days of filing an asbestos claim. Cases would be dismissed for noncompliance. The bill’s floor manager, Sen. Brad Zaun (R-Urbandale), said it is intended to address problems, such as plaintiffs suppressing evidence, to ensure trust fund money is not depleted.
However, Democratic opponents of the bill in the Senate report the bill will “hurt sick and dying Iowans,” according to the news source. They contend it is almost identical to model legislation drafted by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a conservative organization “dedicated to the principles of limited government, free markets and federalism,” according to its website.
“Let’s not do something that could have real harm for real Iowans who are suffering a horrible disease,” Sen. Robert Hogg (D-Cedar Rapids) said, according to The Register. Sen. Liz Mathis (D-Cedar Rapids) noted, “ALEC wants to make it harder for injured workers and their families to get compensation.”
Asbestos, a known human carcinogen, was once used in a host of products, including construction materials. Now, it is banned in more than 50 countries because exposure is linked to the development of deadly mesothelioma cancer, which affects the lining of the heart, lungs or abdomen. After diagnosis, mesothelioma patients live an average of just a year. The disease is completely preventable, and many are unknowingly exposed while at work.
The bill is scheduled to move to the state House of Representatives for debate.