By THE WEST VIRGINIA RECORD
It may take a while for the people at the West Virginia Association for Justice to acknowledge the numerous benefits that Senate Bill 411 will provide to the citizens of our state, assuming that some plaintiffs’ asbestos attorneys are capable of putting the public good above personal interests.
Fortunately, the Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Claims Transparency Act does not, and never did, need their approval. It enjoyed bipartisan support in our legislature, was signed by Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, and is now in effect.
The rave reviews that the reform measure began receiving even before passage are still coming in.
“What happened [in the past] is that some of these claims that were fraudulent or frivolous bankrupted the more culpable parties,” explains Charleston attorney Danielle Swann, who helped draft the bill. “Now, there isn’t money for those who truly are sick to recover. This will help ensure that money is available for people who actually were exposed.”
“This brings fairness to the system,” says Kelley Goes, another attorney who contributed to the bill. “It brings efficiency. It is designed to give everyone a fair shot at compensation if you are ill and worked where asbestos was used.”
“Greed and misrepresentation of facts are rampant in the system, and future legitimate victims of asbestos exposure are losing out to those factors in our present system,” notes Roman Stauffer of West Virginia Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse. “Abuse of the asbestos trust claims process is widespread, and this legislation will shed much-needed daylight on how trusts are being run and cut down on widespread fraud in trust claims and litigation.”
D.C. attorney and nationally-recognized asbestos trust expert Mark Behrens said the law will “improve West Virginia’s legal climate” and “promote honesty in trust-claiming activity and in civil asbestos litigation.” It will also “give priority to deserving claimants by requiring plaintiffs to be sick to sue.”
C'mon, WVAJ folks, admit it's a good bill.