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UPDATE: Walker signs asbestos bill opposed by veterans

UPDATED Thursday, March 27, 2014 --- 2:35 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker has quietly signed a bill opposed by numerous veterans groups and Democrats that changes the process for bringing asbestos exposure lawsuits.

The bill was among 30 that Walker signed privately on Thursday morning in Milwaukee.

Veterans had been lobbying strongly against the bill, which they say will delay and deny justice to those who have gotten sick due to asbestos exposure.

Jason Johns, who represents three Wisconsin veterans groups, says he's disappointed Walker signed the bill he says will be devastating to veterans.

Walker spokeswoman Laurel Patrick says the governor signed it "to ensure transparency in the lawsuit process and stop trial lawyers from double dipping."

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Monday, March 24, 2014 --- 4:06 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Wisconsin veterans who had been urging Gov. Scott Walker to veto a bill affecting asbestos exposure lawsuits are backing down after being told the governor plans to sign the measure.

Jason Johns, lobbyist for the Military Order of the Purple Heart of Wisconsin, said Monday that he emailed veterans telling them to curtail their effort after a Walker aide told another veteran the governor planned to sign the bill.

Walker's spokeswoman Laurel Patrick says Walker continues to evaluate the measure.

Republican proponents argue the goal is to stop those bringing asbestos exposure lawsuits from being able to double dip by suing businesses and trusts established to pay claims. But opponents say new requirements will delay and deny justice for those harmed by asbestos, including veterans.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, March 20, 2014 --- 6:36 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A bill opponents say would deny justice to people exposed to asbestos has passed the Wisconsin Assembly.

Veterans are among the most vocal opponents of the measure passed on a party line 55-38 vote Thursday. The bill now heads to Gov. Scott Walker.

The heavily lobbied proposal would require plaintiffs who have suffered from asbestos exposure to reveal how many businesses their attorneys plan to sue. They would also have to go after money from an asbestos trust before they could sue for more in court.

Proponents argue it is needed to prevent filing multiple claims against both trust funds set up to pay victims of asbestos exposure as well as individual businesses.

Democrats argue the changes would make it more difficult for people harmed by asbestos to collect damages.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press
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UPDATED Thursday, March 20, 2014 --- 6:39 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A bill that opponents say would deny justice to people exposed to asbestos is up for a final vote in the Wisconsin state Assembly.

Veterans are among the most vocal opponents of the measure up for a vote Thursday. If passed, the bill would head to Gov. Scott Walker for his consideration.

The heavily lobbied proposal would require plaintiffs who have suffered from asbestos exposure to reveal how many businesses their attorneys plan to sue. They would also have to go after money from an asbestos trust before they could sue for more in court.

Proponents argue it is needed to prevent filing multiple claims against both trust funds set up to pay victims of asbestos exposure as well as individual businesses.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Monday, March 17, 2014 --- 5:00 p.m.

Asbestos has become the center of a debate at the State Capitol. Veterans groups and other asbestos victim advocates took a stand Monday against Assembly Bill 19, asking Governor Walker and the State Assembly to stop the measure. They say the bill would delay and deny justice to asbestos victims by requiring plaintiffs to reveal how many businesses their attorneys plan to go after.

Ruth Grosz, whose husband died from mesothelioma, explained how the ordeal has changed her life forever. "Instead of giving veterans like my husband, their day in court, and hold corporations responsible, this bill would shield those corporations from liability," she said.

The Senate passed the bill last week and the assembly was expected to vote on the final version Thursday. Walker has not said whether he will sign the bill or not, but his spokeswoman says quote "this bill is about ensuring transparency in the lawsuit process to stop trial lawyers from double dipping."
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UPDATED Monday, March 17, 2014 --- 12:57 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Veterans opposed to a bill that would slow asbestos-exposure lawsuits in Wisconsin are urging Gov. Scott Walker and the state Assembly to stop the measure.

Veterans and relatives of those who have died due to asbestos exposure held a news conference Monday, saying the bill would delay and deny justice to asbestos victims.

The Senate passed the bill last week and the Assembly was expected to vote on the final version Thursday before adjourning for the year.

Walker has not said whether he will sign the bill or not. But his spokeswoman Jocelyn Webster says "this bill is about ensuring transparency in the lawsuit process to stop trial lawyers from double dipping."

The bill would require plaintiffs to reveal how many businesses their attorneys plan to go after.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Wednesday, March 12, 2014 --- 11:11 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A bill that Democratic opponents say would slow asbestos-exposure lawsuits has cleared the Wisconsin state Senate.

The measure passed Wednesday would require plaintiffs to reveal how many businesses their attorneys plan to go after. Trials could not start until six months after that disclosure.

Republican supporters say such a move would prevent lawyers from hiding multiple claims in hopes of maximizing awards.

But opponents, including veterans exposed to asbestos during their service, say the bill is designed to slow cases down in the hopes plaintiffs will die and protect corporations from making payouts.

The bill passed 17-16. Republican Sen. Dale Schultz joined with all Democrats in voting against it. It now must go back to the Assembly, where a similar version passed last year.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, March 11, 2014 --- 7:56 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin state Senate plans to vote on a bill opponents say would slow asbestos-exposure lawsuits.

The measure up for a vote Tuesday would require plaintiffs to reveal how many businesses their attorneys plan to go after. Republican supporters say such a move would prevent lawyers from hiding multiple claims in hopes of maximizing awards.

But opponents, including veterans exposed to asbestos during their service, say the measure is designed to slow cases down in the hopes plaintiffs will die and protect corporations from making payouts.

The Assembly passed the bill last year. If it clears the Senate, it would then head to Gov. Scott Walker for his consideration.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, May 8, 2013 --- 6:10 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The state Assembly has passed a bill opponents say would slow asbestos-exposure lawsuits.

The measure passed Wednesday would require plaintiffs to reveal how many businesses their attorneys plan to go after. Republican supporters say such a move would prevent lawyers from hiding multiple claims in hopes of maximizing awards.

But opponents, including trial attorneys, say the measure is designed to slow cases down in the hopes plaintiffs will die and protect corporations from making payouts.

Rep. Andre Jacque, of De Pere, says his proposal would inject transparency into asbestos claims. He says the bill would help judges and jurors see how many defendants may be at fault for one person's illness, ensuring they divvy up damages fairly.

The bill passed on a 58-39 vote. It now heads to the Senate.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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Posted Thursday, April 5, 2013 --- 12:24 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A northeastern Wisconsin lawmaker says his plan to delay asbestos lawsuits will clarify defendant companies' share of liability.

Rep. Andre Jacque's bill would force judges to stay civil lawsuits seeking damages from companies responsible for causing asbestos-related diseases until the plaintiffs disclose whether they're pursuing claims against now-bankrupt companies that also may have been at fault.

Opponents contend the bill is designed to slow down lawsuits in the hopes plaintiffs will die from their ailments before the litigation can be completed.

Jacque, a De Pere Republican, told the Assembly Judiciary Committee on Thursday the bill would help judges and jurors better understand how multiple defendants may have caused a plaintiff's ailments, ensuring defendants pay their fair share. He called opponents' claims "sickening accusations."

Copyright 2013: Associated Press


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