February 18, 2019

Governor Signs Asbestos Lawsuit Bill Despite Veterans' Opposition

There are thousands of asbestos-related deaths in the U.S. every year. Thursday, Governor Walker signed a bill that changes the process for bringing asbestos exposure lawsuits in Wisconsin.

It’s a bill that was strongly opposed by numerous veterans groups. Now veterans harmed by asbestos say it’s going to be much harder to prove their case.

Dave Behrend, commander of VFW Post 7534, worked on a Navy ship back in 1972.

“On the ship at that time, everything had asbestos. Everything did.”

Asbestos was used extensively for fireproofing and insulation.

Behrend worked in a mechanical room, where he says asbestos filled the air.

“We couldn’t see from four feet away. It was impossible to see the door. The lights were very, very dim, the dust was so thick. And they had a lot of bright lights yet,” said Behrend.

Asbestos is now known to cause an aggressive cancer called mesothelioma decades after exposure. Once diagnosed, life expectancy is 2 years or less.

Thursday, Governor Walker quietly signed the asbestos exposure bill into law “to ensure transparency in the lawsuit process and stop trial lawyers from double dipping,” according to administration spokeswoman Laurel Patrick.

But veterans groups in Wisconsin say the changes will stall or stop the process for many victims.

Behrend fears, “if my turn came and I had to make a claim” he wouldn’t live through litigation.

Time is not on a plaintiff’s side. “At that time they don’t have to pay out, at that time, or they can go for a lesser amount.”

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Governor Signs Asbestos Lawsuit Bill Despite Veterans' Opposition

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