Maryland evaluates asbestos lawsuit deadlines

5 Dec 2017 by under Legal, News

4178172 4178172 american justice series edited 100x100 Maryland evaluates asbestos lawsuit deadlines state law allows 20 years from the time of asbestos exposure for workers or their families to file a claim for an asbestos-related disease or death, but that time may soon be extended.

The Maryland County Court of Appeals is currently weighing the case of steamfitter James F. Piper, who died from mesothelioma more than 40 years after being exposed while working for a power plant in the 1970s, according to The Baltimore Sun.

The case has taken the spotlight as a ruling in Piper’s favor could potentially open the door for other lawsuits where plaintiffs did not get sick until after the 20 year deadline. Opponents say a favorable plaintiff verdict would “give the court the power to change state law and open the door to new liability for many companies,” according to the news source. The Maryland Defense Counsel, an organization of civil defense attorneys, maintains a change in the state’s statute would negate efforts “to protect businesses from facing construction-related claims like these years after the fact.”

However, Piper’s attorney told The Sun that Maryland’s 20-year deadline was “inherently unreasonable” in the case of mesothelioma-related suits. The deadly cancer, which can affect the lining of the lungs, heart or abdomen, typically has a decades-long latency period with a quick deterioration after diagnosis, so the disease can take 30 years to present itself but prove deadly within months due to its difficulty to treat. Asbestos-related disease advocates believe the unique latency period of the disease should be taken into account when determining the deadline for related cases.

The court did not specify during last week’s hearing when it would rule on the case.

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