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Monday, May 22, 2006

Michigan Taking on Asbestos

Michigan is considering asbestos-specific legislation:

People could not sue unless they have a physical impairment that is substantially attributable to asbestos or silica exposure. Damages for pain and suffering would be limited to $250,000, or three times the amount of economic losses, whichever is greater.

The bill is here.  One interesting section, just as an example of what it's about (it's a lengthy bill, and worth looking through):

(2) A person shall not bring or maintain a civil action
alleging an asbestos claim based on a nonmalignant condition unless
the person makes a prima facie showing that the exposed person has
or had a physical impairment resulting from a medical condition to
which exposure to asbestos was a substantial contributing factor. A
prima facie showing required by this subsection includes, at a
minimum, all of the following:

     (a) Evidence verifying that a qualified physician has taken a
detailed occupational and exposure history of the exposed person
or, if the exposed person is deceased, from a person who is
knowledgeable about the exposures that form the basis of the
asbestos claim, including both of the following:

     (i) The identification of all of the exposed person's principal
places of employment and exposures to airborne contaminants.
      (ii) Whether each place of employment involved exposures to
airborne contaminants, including, but not limited to, asbestos
fibers or other disease causing dusts, that can cause pulmonary
impairment and the nature, duration, and level of each exposure.
      (b) Evidence verifying that a qualified physician has taken a
detailed medical and smoking history, including a thorough review
of the exposed person's past and present medical problems and the
most probable cause of the problems.
      (c) A determination by a qualified physician, on the basis of
a medical examination and pulmonary function testing, that the
exposed person has or had a permanent respiratory impairment rating
of at least class 2 as defined by and evaluated pursuant to the AMA
guides to the evaluation of permanent impairment.
      (d) A diagnosis by a qualified physician of asbestosis or
diffuse pleural thickening, based at a minimum on radiological or
pathological evidence of asbestosis or radiological evidence of
diffuse pleural thickening.
      (e) A determination by a qualified physician that asbestosis
or diffuse pleural thickening, rather than chronic obstructive
pulmonary disease, is or was a substantial contributing factor to
the exposed person's physical impairment, based at a minimum on a
determination that the exposed person has or had 1 or more of the
      (i) Total lung capacity, by plethysmography or timed gas
dilution, below the predicted lower limit of normal.
      (ii) FVC below the lower limit of normal and a ratio of FEV1 to
FVC that is equal to or greater than the predicted lower limit of
      (iii) A chest x-ray showing small, irregular opacities (s, t)
graded by a certified "B" reader at least 2/1 on the ILO scale.
      (f) A conclusion by a qualified physician that the exposed
person's medical findings and impairment were not more probably the
result of causes other than the asbestos exposure revealed by the
exposed person's employment and medical history.

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