Texas: Senate legislation would expedite asbestos cancer cases
Sen. Robert Duncan, R-Lubbock, said the measure is intended to create a more reasonable standard under which patients with mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer caused by asbestos, can claim cause. While Texas has had one the most lenient standards of proof in the nation, Duncan said a 2007 state Supreme Court ruling has made it too difficult for mesothelioma patients to prove the source of their cancer.
The Texas Supreme Court ruling involved a case of asbestosis, which is damage to the lungs caused by asbestos but has similar symptoms to other lung diseases. The court ruled that to prove causation in an asbestosis case, plaintiffs must show how much asbestos they had been exposed to. Duncan said that same standard has been applied to mesothelioma cases. However, mesothelioma, he said, can have a latency period of decades, which can make it nearly impossible for patients to go back as much as 40 years to find qualitative proof of the exact amount of exposure to asbestos.
Duncan's legislation, Senate Bill 1123, would use what is known as the Lohrmann standard, which requires a plaintiff in a mesothelioma case to prove that exposure to asbestos was frequent, regular and proximal. It would not change the standard for asbestosis cases.
"We're not going to go back to the most liberal standard in the country for mesothelioma," he said. "We're going to adopt the most widely accepted standard in the country."
A companion bill has been introduced into the Texas House of Representatives.
June 11, 2009
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