North Carolina State Legislators Are Being Led Astray By The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) And Its Successor Asbestos-Related Liability Fairness Act
In North Carolina there is legislation being considered currently that offers immunity to Crown Cork & Seal (and possibly others) for asbestos liability it legally acquired when it bought another manufacturing company, Mundet Asbestos, back in 1963. In effect, this legislation, if it became law, would bailout an out-of-state corporation allowing it to escape responsibility for its business dealings and shift the burden of caring for people in North Carolina with asbestos-related diseases from the legally responsible corporate entity to the NC taxpayers.
North Carolina Senate Bill (SB) 429 filed by Sen. Harry Brown (R-Onslow) and NC House Bill (HB) 415 filed by Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer (R-Mecklenburg), Rep. John Blust (R-Guilford), and Rep. Tom Murry (R-Wake) were filed in late March 2013. These pieces of proposed legislation are identical and based on a model bill created by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — Successor Asbestos-Related Liability Fairness Act — that 16 states have now passed and which gives virtual immunity to corporations that purchased an asbestos-making company in the past.
This proposed legislation recently filed in North Carolina — and which has been made law in 16 other states, already — says that if one company purchased another company which had manufactured asbestos-containing products, the parent company is only liable to people who developed an asbestos disease or cancer like mesothelioma due to being exposed to that asbestos product up to the amount the parent paid for the acquired company.
This law would mean that companies like Crown, Cork and Seal (CC&S) would be immune from any and all future asbestos and mesothelioma lawsuits because CC&S has already paid out more in asbestos lawsuits than it paid for Mundet 50 years ago, back in 1963.
It is important to known that the dangers associated with asbestos exposure have been known since the early 1930s. Still the asbestos industry hid the facts, exposed workers and families, and now nearly 10,000 Americans are killed by asbestos diseases every year.
Essentially, CC&S bought an asbestos company and, rather than be stuck with Mundet’s legal liabilities pursuant to well-established tort law, CC&S wants to undo their bad business decision (in hindsight) and go to the state legislatures by means of ALEC to make this happen for them.
Not a bit surprising to me, at least, is the fact that Crown, Cork and Seal (CC&S) is a member of ALEC, according to Source Watch.
States where this asbestos lawsuit immunity law has passed thus far are Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Nebraska, North Dakota ,Texas, Wyoming, and Utah.
As a North Carolina asbestos-mesothelioma attorney, I am opposed to NC SB 429 and NC HB 415 and I urge our state legislators in Raleigh to not join the states above that have the dubious distinction of having been led astray by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and its Successor Asbestos-Related Liability Fairness Act.
In order to learn more about why this ALEC asbestos immunity legislation should be defeated in North Carolina, see this Lawyers.com article, “ALEC Puts the Screws to Asbestos Victims”. And thereafter, if you live in North Carolina or you have been affected by an asbestos disease or cancer like mesothelioma, you should contact one or more of the following NC legislators and voice your opposition to NC SB 429 and NC HB 415 — which may be good for ALEC and its corporate members like Crown Cork & Seas (CC&S) but is absolutely no good for the people of North Carolina.
Those North Carolina legislators who are being led astray by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and its Successor Asbestos-Related Liability Fairness Act are:
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