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Ohio law poised to heighten standards in asbestos-litigation

Workplace injuries come in many shapes and sizes. Employees can be physically injured at work through machinery or other dangerous conditions. But workplace injuries also include the long-term effects of exposure to unsafe chemicals or materials. The state-run workers' compensation allows for payments to employees were hurt or disabled at work. Workers' compensation covers a variety of injuries and generally pays out regardless of who was at fault for the injury.

But different from the workers' compensation system, civil litigation to recover damages from employers for workplace injuries has higher standards for proving fault. And the governor of Ohio is expected to shortly sign a bill that might make it harder to victims of asbestos exposure to recover from the companies that exposed them to the cancer-causing material.

The bill has passed both the state House and Senate and now sits in front of the Governor to sign. Ohio would be the first in the U.S. to pass such a law.

Essentially, the bill would require plaintiffs to list all other people or companies they have sued, including all the evidence they used for those claims. These revelations may allow the corporate defendant to then delay the current trial if the defendant thinks the plaintiff withheld information or evidence in previous cases. The legislation purports to better apportion blame for asbestos-related injuries.

This isn't the first Ohio law related to asbestos litigation. Eight years ago, the state passed a law implementing a requirement of plaintiff to show substantial impairment of health.

Although eliminating fraudulent claims is a prudent goal of this proposed legislation, the bill may make it more difficult for true victims to recover damages to pay for the injuries or to supplement what workers' compensation may not cover.

Source: The Toledo Blad, "Kasich expected to sign asbestos-litigation curb; measure requires claimants to list all other entities they've sued," Jim Provance, Dec. 12, 2012

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