Democrats In Legislature Say They’ll Try To Repeal Asbestos Lawsuit Restrictions

Law Passed Earlier This Year Requires Would-Be Litigants To Tap Into Asbestos Trusts

Currently, people with asbestos-related grievances must tap into an asbestos trust before filing a lawsuit. Photo: Alpha (CC-BY-SA).

Democratic state lawmakers say they plan to introduce a bill to undo a Republican law that makes it harder to file asbestos-related lawsuits.

The law Gov. Scott Walker signed earlier this year requires people suffering from asbestos-related illnesses to seek damages from asbestos trusts before they sue businesses. Veterans groups fought the changes, arguing they would disproportionately hurt veterans exposed to asbestos while on duty.

Jason Johns, who lobbies for the Wisconsin chapters of the Military Order of the Purple Heart and the Wisconsin VFW, said the trouble with relying on these trusts is that they’re underfunded.

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“There’s no more money being put in the trusts,” said Johns. “(Veterans are) lucky to get pennies on the dollar if anything.”

A bill draft introduced by Rep. Dana Wachs (D-Eau Claire) would repeal most of the asbestos law, but it would still require asbestos victims to disclose whom they’re suing.

The next Legislature will convene in Madison in January.