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Legislation Threatens MI Mesothelioma, Lung Cancer Victims

Lobbyists Try to Elimimate Compensation for Michigan Residents with Asbestos Diseases

A new bill that threatens current asbestos litigation is sweeping the nation, with Michigan falling prey. The Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Claims Transparency Act, or Senate Bill 411, seeks to establish standards for the handing of claims related to asbestos while creating criteria for medical procedures and statutes of limitations. 

In reality, this bill is pro-big business and anti-worker, anti-veteran and corporate lobbyist written and doesn’t reflect the needs of those affected by asbestos exposure. Intending to reduce the number of companies going into bankruptcy over asbestos claims, this Act simply serves the interests of the lobbyists who wrote it to protect themselves from their own misconduct. 

Asbestos Risks Ignored, Hidden

It took decades of hiding the truth for companies to publicly admit asbestos was a carcinogen that led to diseases like mesotheliomalung cancer and asbestosis. During the 1st Century, the Romans noticed a link between the use of asbestos and various health problems. Fast-forward to 1900 and a doctor claims an asbestos textile factory worker, age 33, died from severe pulmonary fibrosis caused by asbestos exposure. In 1918, the Labor Department noted early deaths among asbestos workers, but did nothing. 

Starting in the 1940s, companies began exchanging secret memos that identified the dangers of asbestos. Corporations like Exxon, Pfizer and Babcock and Wilcox hid this crucial information from workers, out of fear of falling profits and medical expenses. Even the insurance industry decided to not cover asbestosis when diagnosed. 

Asbestos Regulation by the EPA

After a 10-year study, the Environmental Protection Agency attempted to ban asbestos under the Toxic Substances Control Act in 1989. Citing the fiber as a “human carcinogen and one of the most hazardous substances to which humans are exposed,” the national attention led to a significant decrease in use and mining, but not an overall ban. In 1991, the U.S. Court of Appeals decided substantial evidence wasn’t presented by the EPA to uphold the asbestos ban. 

Prior to the 1970s and 1980s, asbestos was used in nearly every house and building. The fire-resistant fiber was used in insulation, ceiling tiles, roofing and more. Even with current limited uses, many older facilities still contain the deadly substance. 

Michigan's Asbestos Legacy: Mesothelioma and Lung Cancer

Workers exposed decades ago are still feeling the effects of asbestos after receiving mesothelioma and lung cancer diagnoses. Many feel asbestos is a threat of the past, yet estimates believe it’s killed more than 7,000 people in Michigan alone between 1999 and 2013 with annual national estimates at 12,000 to 15,000 per year.

Wayne County, home of Detroit, includes the highest asbestos-related deaths in the state, with 50 percent more than number two on the list, Macomb County. It surpasses the number of deaths in number four, Kent County, by more than 300 percent. Saginaw County and Muskegon County collectively have more than 500 asbestos-related deaths in just four years and equal over 50 percent of the deaths in Wayne County.

It’s no surprise the highest number of asbestos deaths come out of Wayne County. Prior to laws limiting its use, asbestos was used in many of the Detroit area factories, including Ford’s River Rouge plant Rouge Steel and Great Lakes Steel on Zug Island. In an attempt to create a self-sustaining factory, Henry Ford brought all manufacturing components for vehicles into one complex that housed a power plant, glass plant and steel mill, all carrying risks for asbestos exposure.

McLouth Steel, also known as J&L Steel, also played a major role in exposing thousands to asbestos. When it reached its highest levels of productivity, it was the eleventh-largest producer of steel in the United States. Although it was smaller than its Michigan counterparts, this integrated mill expanded and innovated, threatening decades of workers.  

Mesothelioma, an incurable cancer with a prognosis of less than year, claimed almost 1,500 Michigan lives from 1999 to 2013 with asbestos-related lung cancer accounting for the deaths of almost 6,000. A history of smoking is usually ruled as the cause, but a history of smoking plus asbestos exposure increases the risk of lung cancer by 50 percent. 

Protect Michigan's Injured Workers

For too long, the rights of workers were ignored to turn a profit and now those companies are trying to keep those affected from receiving the necessary compensation through the Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Claims Transparency Act

Tell your elected Michigan representatives to defend the rights of asbestos victims and their families; contact your State Senator and Representative and tell them to protect the citizens of the state from multi-national corporate conglomerates who sold the asbestos products that poisoned Michigan workers, veterans and their families. 

Find your State Representative and State Senator today and tell them to vote NO against the Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Claims Transparency Act.

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Act Now or Your Rights to Compensation May be Eliminated!

Make a difference in protecting your Constitutional Rights! Call and email your Representative and Senator today and tell them to vote no on the pro-big business, anti-worker, anti-veteran corporate lobbyist written Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Claims Transparency Act andAsbestos and Silica Claims Priorities Act.

Remind your elected representatives that:

  • Your legal rights to receive compensation for asbestos disease are more important than the interests of the corporations and Lobbyists who wrote these bills to protect themselves from their own misconduct.
  • As your elected representatives, they should be looking out for you and the citizens of Michigan, and not for out of state, multi-national corporate conglomerates who sold asbestos products that poisoned Michigan workers, veterans and their families.

Find your State Representative’s and State Senator's telephone numbers and email addresses at the links provided. Let them hear from you today!