Veterans Ask Walker To Veto Just-Passed Asbestos Bill

Groups Cite Concerns That New Procedures Would Overly Slow Lawsuits


A coalition of veterans groups is asking Gov. Scott Walker to veto a bill that changes the rules for asbestos lawsuits, after the plan cleared its final legislative hurdle late Thursday night.

The plan would require people harmed by asbestos to disclose up front how many companies they plan to sue. It would also require them to go after money from an asbestos trust before they can sue for a bigger award in court.

Republican Rep. Jim Ott of Mequon told his colleagues it was about protecting those trusts.

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“Every company that has produced asbestos is going to go bankrupt if we’re not putting some control on this pot of money,” Ott said, “which is not an endless pot of money.”

Several veterans groups, including the VFW and American Legion have steadfastly opposed the plan, however. Veterans are more apt to have been exposed to asbestos and they worry this plan will make it harder to collect damages before they die from asbestos-related illnesses.

Assembly Democratic Minority Leader Peter Barca asked Republicans why they wouldn’t listen: “Veterans are practically on their hands and knees pleading with you and you are unmoved,” Barca said.

Several business groups reported lobbying in favor of the plan, including 3M and Koch Industries. The bill passed the Assembly on a party-line vote.