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January 08, 2005

Bush: Limit Asbestos Victims RIghts

Progressives need to be clear that the discussion about medical malpractice by Bush is a stalking horse for the much larger corporate goal of limiting all liability claims.

The public is inherently sympathetic to obstetricians facing the high costs of malpractice insurance. So Bush has flogged medical malpractice relentlessly.

But he's now tipped his hand to the next step: limiting claims by victims of corporate harms, such as asbestos makers like Halliburton:

President Bush concluded a week of campaigning to overhaul the nation's civil justice system on Friday by urging swift Congressional approval of legislation that would sharply limit the steadily growing number of lawsuits by workers and others who claim to have been injured from asbestos...

Critics have said that one reason the White House may have been less visible on the issue in the past is that until recently a main beneficiary of such a measure could have been Halliburton, the large oil field services and construction company once headed by Vice President Dick Cheney.

There have been many discussions on creating a system to compensate victims more quickly and simply than using the court system. But the legislation supported by Bush ignores the harms to many victims of asbestos:
Although lawsuits for mesothelioma and other asbestos cancers could go forward, those for other serious, but non–cancerous asbestos conditions such as asbestosis might not qualify. S.B. 413 and similar legislation is being pushed by asbestos companies and their insurers.

Sen. Max Baucus (D–MT) expressed his concern about all asbestos victims..."I am concerned that in a rush to address a perceived crisis in our courts, Congress may do an injustice to hundreds or thousands of injured people by arbitrarily denying those people the ability to protect their rights."

THe rhetoric is typical of Bush. He picks out one group to highlight as supposedly benefitting form legislation -- in this case cancer victims of asbestos -- in order to promote legislation that would destroy the rights of many other people.

Posted by Nathan at January 8, 2005 06:29 AM