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Bush proposes a ban on asbestos class action lawsuits

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After his reelection, President Bush has embarked on an aggressive program to change the legal system of the United States, specifically laws related to class action lawsuits. In summary, the initiatives being proposed using the buzzword "tort reform" will essentially deprive Americans the right to sue a company when it makes a killer product. Some of the companies that will benefit immediately are the makers of asbestos and drugs like Vioxx.

The President stressed the need for class action lawsuit reform, in general, and asbestos litigation reform in particular, and he urged Congress to enact proposed reforms early this month. He says, "The growing problem of asbestos litigation is similarly hurting workers, bankrupting businesses, and delaying relief for the truly sick claimants." President Bush supports enactment of medical liability reform, class action lawsuit reform, and asbestos litigation reform to expedite resolutions and curb the costs of lawsuits for all Americans. Most experts do not expect that all of these can be achieved but many have expressed fears that some laws could be changed since all branches of government are now controlled by one party. But most mesothelioma victims oppose the President's ideas since they believe they are designed to help the companies, rather than the victims of mesothelioma. (Related article: Mesothelioma victims oppose plan to ban asbestos lawsuits)

The President does not want to appear as if he does not appreciate the sufferings of those who have been injured by asbestos or whose family members have died. He says that, "Victims of asbestos-related diseases deserve a fair system and a long-term solution. The current system may leave little or no funds to pay current and future asbestos victims; is costly to administer (future transaction costs are estimated at between $145 and $210 billion); will impose large, indirect costs on the economy; and has driven exposed defendants, including small businesses, into bankruptcy. Asbestos, as the longest-running mass tort litigation in U.S. history, has led to the bankruptcies of at least 74 companies. Within the past few years, there have been sharp increases in the number of asbestos claims filed annually. The President has stressed the need for reform and commended Congress for aggressively working on this problem, but more work needs to be done to pass legislation for the President to sign that provides a fair and permanent solution."

Recommended article: The Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act opposed by mesothelioma victims

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