Why is [ American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) ] so fond of DeGroot? Because he has cheerfully championed ALEC legislation to restrict the right of terminally ill, asbestos victims to sue over mesothelioma. In doing so, DeGroot is helping the many U.S. companies, including ALEC funders Koch Industries and Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, that have asbestos-related liability.
Nationwide, Not on Your Side
Mesothelioma is an aggressive type of lung cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Even though the dangers of deadly asbestos have been known for over 100 years, industry worked hard to bury evidence that workers were being harmed by asbestos exposure. Three thousand people are diagnosed each year with mesothelioma in the United States and most die within a year or two. Most victims are public servants, veterans, firefighters, even teachers exposed to asbestos in schools.
In addition to being an [ American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) ] politician, Degroot is an attorney for an insurance defense firm, Brown & James, which represents dozens of insurers who, in turn, have as clients companies responsible for mesothelioma-related claims. One of the firm’s clients is Nationwide. Sources tell the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) that Nationwide was actively pushing the bill in Missouri, although it was not publicly listed as a supporter of the bill.
In many states, a legislator who introduced a bill benefitting his firm’s clients could face ethics charges or worse. In Missouri, “it is unseemly, to say the least, and one of the reasons we need ethics reform in this state,” said deputy director Sharon Geuea Jones of the Missouri Association of Trial Lawyers.
Nationwide has long been a corporate sponsor of [ American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) ]. In 2014 and 2015, for example, Nationwide incurred asbestos-related losses of $148 million and $98 million respectively, giving it one of the largest asbestos liabilities of any insurer for those years, according to Casualty Actuaries of Greater New York.
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