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In Michigan, a Battle between Veteran Asbestos Cancer Victims and the Asbestos Industry

LANSING, Mich. -- Two weeks ago a bill HB 5456 titled Asbestos Claim Transparency, drafted by the National Chamber of Commerce and Asbestos companies was pushed into Michigan with promises of campaign donations, says Goldberg, Persky & White PC. Today, Michigan's Commanders Group (Congressionally Chartered Veterans Organizations) filed their resolution in opposition to the bill.

The group includes American Legion, American Veterans, Disabled American Veterans, Jewish War Veterans of the United States, Marine Corps League, Noncommissioned Officers Association, Polish American Veterans, Order of the Purple Heart, Vietnam Veterans of America, Paralyzed Veterans of America, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

Legal advocates claim HB 5456 - seeks to delay if not deny compensation from the responsible corporations to victims. "Since we already have transparency by law in Michigan this transparency titled proposal is designed with one goal in mind - to run out the clock on asbestos victims in Michigan so they die before their cases even make it to court," said Attorney Lane Clack of Saginaw.

"People who were unknowingly sickened by asbestos deserve justice, and the companies responsible for poisoning them should be held accountable."

In Lansing today, Clack said that legislation - Asbestos Claim Transparency HB 5456 - passed by the Republican controlled Michigan House of Representatives last week would penalize Michigan residents who are sick and dying from asbestos exposure, many of whom are veterans, and would be an unwarranted giveaway to big companies that made products with asbestos.

"An estimated 10,000 - 15,000 Americans die each year from asbestos-related diseases and people are still getting sick. Dozens of countries have banned asbestos, but it is not banned in the United States," said Clack. "As companies continue to import hundreds of tons of asbestos into the U.S. each year, workers, first responders and others continue to be exposed, especially when buildings are renovated or demolished. HB 5456 puts onerous burdens on victims and asbestos trusts, but does nothing to protect innocent Michigan workers from exposure to asbestos. And don't forget, this is a veterans' issue. Forty percent of all Michigan asbestos victims are veterans. That's why many of the major veterans groups oppose this bill."

Asbestos was once widely used in a number of industries that employed many people in Michigan, including construction, steel, pulp and paper production and the auto industry. Michigan has a higher-than-average mortality rate for asbestos-related diseases, according to

Michigan Veterans are disproportionally afflicted with asbestos-related diseases. While they make up 8 percent of the U.S. population, they account for roughly 30 percent of Americans who contract mesothelioma, a cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs, stomach and other organs caused only by asbestos.

Legal experts with the Michigan Association for Justice, point out the bill makes no sense in Michigan. Michigan already has "Transparency" by Court Order and Michigan juries already consider fault of all bankrupt asbestos companies; MI has had apportionment by Statute since the 1990's.

Clack said, "Since the Republican majority in the House of Representatives rolled over like puppy dogs for the Asbestos Companies and the Chamber, the bill now moves to the Senate. It is now left to the Senators on the Senate Competitiveness Committee to decide which side they are on - either Michigan Residents, Veterans and First responders or the Asbestos Companies and their lobbyists."

Senate Competitiveness Committee Members are:

* Mike Shirkey (R) Committee Chair, 16th District - (517) 373-5932
* Jim Stamas (R) Vice Chair, 36th District - (517) 373-7946
* David Robertson (R) 14th District - (517) 373-1636
* John Proos (R) 21st District - (517) 373-6960
* Rebekah Warren (D) Minority Vice Chair, 18th District - (517) 373-2406.

Anyone in Michigan who has been exposed to asbestos should call your State Senator and the Senators on the Committee above immediately. Ask them to oppose the Asbestos Industry Bill.

"The very essence of civil liberty certainly consists in the right of every individual to claim protection of the laws whenever he receives an injury." Marbury v. Madison (1803) (John Marshall).

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Michigan Veterans File Opposition to Asbestos Bill

LANSING, Mich. -- Michigan's top Mesothelioma legal expert on behalf of hundreds of Michigan Veterans with asbestos disease, Goldberg, Persky & White P.C., today issued the following statement and alert in response to passage of HB 5456, the so-called "Asbestos Bankruptcy Transparency Act," out of the Michigan House of Representatives Republican controlled "Competitiveness" committee on a straight party line vote.

The bill, better entitled "delay 'til they die plan," would shield corporations from being held accountable for deadly asbestos-related diseases like Mesothelioma and delay justice for victims:

The asbestos industry's ongoing nationwide campaign to avoid accountability to those they harmed has reared its ugly head in Michigan. This bill would impose burdens on asbestos victims, including active and retired service members, the civil justice system, asbestos bankruptcy trusts, and taxpayers. It would force victims and their families to jump through several expensive and time-consuming hoops before being allowed to move forward with a claim in state court.

Those suffering from mesothelioma, on average, have 12 to 18 months to live. Asbestos victims do not have extra time or money to spare. Unfortunately, the asbestos industry is seeking to take advantage of this fact. Their goal: To delay and deny until victims die.

Michigan ranks 12th nationally for mesothelioma and asbestos deaths, and 40 percent of asbestos victims in the state are veterans. Hundreds of asbestos exposed Veterans in Saginaw, Detroit, Muskegon, Escanaba, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Alpena, Port Huron and other industrial cities will be disproportionally put at risk. Veterans were extensively exposed to asbestos products not only during military service but in their civilian work at Michigan's automobile plants, steel mills, paper mills and in construction trades.

It is wrong to give asbestos companies new ways to stonewall their victims, especially those that served their country. This injustice is magnified by the fact that this legislation is unnecessary in Michigan as state law already requires transparency. Asbestos victims must provide asbestos defendants with copies of all claim forms six months before trial, and juries are already compelled to assign responsibility to bankrupt defendants under existing Michigan Law.

Asbestos victims deserve justice. It is unconscionable that Michigan lawmakers would pass legislation to allow the same out-of-state corporations and their front groups who hid the dangers of asbestos for decades and caused hundreds of thousands of deaths to avoid accountability. Once again our elected representatives should be fighting for asbestos victims and their families - not those who harmed them.

We urge all Michigan veterans to immediately call their state senator and representative and urge them to oppose HB 5456.

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Weitz and Luxenberg, P.C. Sees Cancer Research Month As Ideal Time to Provide Free Access to Cancer Study Data

NEW YORK, N.Y. -- Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C. today said it agrees with Vice President Joe Biden that the lives of more cancer victims could be saved if cancer researchers were able to more freely access published studies and, most importantly, their underlying data.

The nationally known personal injury and mass tort law firm said it believes publishers of medical journals should make cancer research data available at no cost to any cancer researcher who wishes to view them.

Currently, cancer researchers are generally only able to read the published studies if they pay for them, and have virtually no access to the data supporting the studies, Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C. said.

Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C. said its views mirror Vice President Biden's recent calls, including, most recently at an April 20 cancer research conference in New Orleans, for such free access.

Shared Data Benefits Mesothelioma Patients:

Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C. said this desire to see cancer research improved is particularly timely because May is National Cancer Research Month in the U.S.

"We believe cancer research is incredibly important," the law firm said. "It is important to the lives of the 1.6 million people who the American Cancer Society estimates will be diagnosed in 2016 with one of more than 200 different types of cancer.

"Improved cancer research is also important to the approximately 14.5 million individuals who the American Association for Cancer Research classifies as cancer survivors.

"Better cancer research is particularly important to many of our clients. They are battling mesothelioma, one of the most aggressive of all cancers."

Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C. said the plight of individuals with mesothelioma is distressing because the cancer strikes only as a result of exposure to the toxic mineral asbestos.

"Mesothelioma is something that need never have happened to our clients," the law firm said. "While mesothelioma is incurable, it is totally preventable by avoiding exposure to asbestos. Such exposure occurred only because companies that manufactured and sold products containing asbestos were reckless in failing to warn workers of the hazard."

Cancer Research Critically Important to Veterans:

Weitz & Luxenberg noted that many stricken by mesothelioma became exposed to asbestos during their service in the U.S. Navy and other branches of the armed forces.

"We lament that, on this upcoming Memorial Day, while we honor the fallen veterans that sacrificed their lives to protect our country, so many who served have fallen victim to this fatal cancer that need never have attacked them," the law firm said.

Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C. explained that many warships built before the 1970s were laden with asbestos to provide fireproofing and insulation in crew quarters, galleys, engine rooms, boiler rooms, gun turrets, magazines and other vital areas.

Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C. said it is on behalf of veterans and all other mesothelioma patients that it is throwing its full support behind National Cancer Research Month and behind President Barack Obama's plans for a "cancer moonshot" effort.

The White House announced in February that it wants nearly $1 billion spent over the next two years on cancer research as part of this moonshot initiative, Weitz & Luxenberg said.

"We join the president and vice president in their expressed desire to make America the country that cures cancer once and for all," the law firm announced.

About Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C.:

Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C. is among the nation's leading and most readily recognized personal injury and consumer protection law firms. Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C.'s numerous litigation areas include: mesothelioma, defective medicine and devices, environmental pollutants, products liability, consumer protection, accidents, personal injury, and medical malpractice. Victims of consumer fraud are invited to rely on Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C.'s more than 25 years of experience handling such cases. You can contact the firm's Client Relations department at 800-476-6070 or at

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