Veterans Among Opponents of Controversial Asbestos Bill Signed into Law

Veterans and other opponents of a controversial proposal were disappointed to find out that Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed the bill into law on March 27.

The heavily lobbied bill, which narrowly passed in the Senate, will require plaintiffs in asbestos exposure cases to divulge the number of business their attorneys intend to sue. Proponents believe the law is necessary to prevent attorneys from filing claims against both trust funds and individual businesses. Evidently, the governor agrees.

“Governor Walker signed this law to ensure transparency in the lawsuit process and stop trial lawyers from double dipping,” said Laurel Patrick, Gov. Walker’s spokeswoman. “Preventing double dipping will help make sure there will be resources available for the truly injured down the road.”

Opponents of the bill argue that the law will draw out the trial process, sometimes to the point that a sick plaintiff may pass away before a verdict is reached, thus denying them the right to justice.

In response to the signing of the bill, lobbyist Jason Johns, who represents the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Military Order of the Purple Heart, issued a statement that reflected the devastation felt by the opposition. “Many of our members recognize the great things that the governor and the state legislature have done for veterans this legislative session,” Johns began, “but unfortunately, all of the good will now be overshadowed by the ignoring of our pleas to stop this devastating legislation from becoming law.”

Asbestos exposure has been a hot-button issue lately, as approximately 3,000 mesothelioma diagnoses continue to be made each year, with veterans being the demographic most affected by this disease. It is also controversial; while many sympathize with mesothelioma victims, others are critical of the sometimes hefty compensatory payouts in asbestos suits.

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