Texas May Lower Standard of Proof in Mesothelioma Cases
Mesothelioma patients having their cases tried in Texas may soon encounter fewer obstacles in their pursuit of justice. The state Senate recently passed a bill 20-11 that would lower the burden of proof for plaintiffs in lawsuits involving asbestos exposure. The bill still has several stages to pass before it can become law, but the Senate’s approval does mark a step towards victory for mesothelioma victims.
Under the current laws, people who are suffering from mesothelioma because of workplace exposure to asbestos have to prove that they were exposed to sufficient levels to cause their illness. The problem with such a standard is that cancer is a very complex disease; its causes cannot be easily proven. In addition, mesothelioma can take so long to develop that many of its victims have not handled asbestos in years. This makes it even harder to prove their previous level of exposure.
As a result, many plaintiffs are caught in legal battles for years before receiving the compensation they need for medical treatment and other costs. Many victims of negligent employers and manufacturers have been passed away while waiting for a verdict. Senator Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock), the bill’s sponsor, is trying to address this tragic problem.
Despite being sponsored by a Republican, the bill has received the most support from the Texas Senate’s Democrats. All Democrats who were present for the vote approved of the bill; the 19 Republicans were more divided. Some are concerned that this law could hurt businesses more than it helps victims.
In return, the bills’ supporters point out that mesothelioma patients are a relatively small population, lacking the numbers it would take to hurt big businesses. More importantly, the current state of affairs is simply not acceptable. Too many families are being financially ruined by medical expenses that are not their fault, and should not be their responsibility.