Ohio Ruling Gives Priority to Sick Asbestos Claimants

October 4, 2004

Ohio’s Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, where the majority of asbestos cases have been filed in the state, issued an administrative order recently that gives priority to cases filed by individuals exhibiting symptoms of illness from exposure to asbestos.

According to the court’s order, claimants who meet the asbestos medical criteria can continue with their claims in the regular tort system. Individuals who were exposed to asbestos, but not showing signs of illness, will have their cases temporarily dismissed. If the healthy claimants later develop asbestos-related illnesses, those claimants may ask the court to reinstate the claims. Also, if the dockets clear and all impaired plaintiffs’ cases are resolved, the cases that have been dismissed will be restored to the regular trial docket, according to the ruling. No time limit exists for the reinstatement of the cases.

This year, Ohio became the first state to require that medical criteria be met before an asbestos lawsuit can be filed. The law, which took effect Sept. 2, requires that a plaintiff provide medical evidence to prove that exposure to asbestos was a substantial factor in causing his or her illness.

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