Certain lung cancer and mesothelioma patients in Illinois now have four years - instead of the previous two - to file a claim against the companies responsible for their illness. Patients impacted by this law change are those affiliated with construction or improvement to real estate. Lung cancer lawyers at Pintas & Mullins are grateful to report on this new law.
The extension of the statute of limitations (SOL) is important for many reasons, not least of which because of the severity of asbestos-caused lung cancer and mesothelioma. Asbestos is a fiber-like mineral that is commonly found in insulation, pipe coverings, and other friction materials, and was used in nearly all buildings, ships and automobiles until the mid-1970s.
Although it was banned by the EPA in the 70s, the total ban was overturned, and asbestos continues to be used to today. It is also still quite prevalent in older buildings, vehicles, sea vessels, and other products.
Another important reason why the SOL has been extended has to do with the time period between when asbestos exposure occurs and when cancer ultimately is found. Typically, it takes between 20-50 years for asbestos fibers to develop into lung cancer, mesothelioma, asbestosis, or another asbestos-related illness.
To get a better picture of how this will affect real victims of exposure, one can look at a case filed in March 2014, Nina Simone v. Etta James Corp. The plaintiff in this case, Nina Simone, worked for 25 years installing asbestos exposure in Chicago. In the mid-1980s, Simone moved to New York where she currently resides.
In 1988, Simone was diagnosed with asbestosis, a severe respiratory disease; just one year later Simone was diagnosed with mesothelioma. She filed suit against Etta James Corp., which manufactured the asbestos insulation she worked with for so many years. The court ruled that, in cases of toxic exposure, the injury occurs at the place and time of exposure - in this case, in Chicago between 1955 and 1980. On appeal, the New York Supreme Court reversed the decision, stating that the New York laws should be applied.
In New York, the statue starts to run at the time the illness is discovered, so Simone would have had three years to file a lawsuit after her 1989 mesothelioma diagnosis. If her case had been subject to Illinois law, she would have had only two years to file.
For most cancer patients even the smallest amount of time is a big deal. Only about 40% of mesothelioma patients live past the first year of diagnosis, and that time should be spent with friends, family and loved ones. Allowing more time for cancer patients to consider legal action against the parties responsible for their exposure is an expression of compassion that is rare in our current criminal justice system.
People who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma must face how, where, and with who they will be treated. They and their families face exorbitant medical bills and the financial burden can devastate families. That is where we come in. We know that a cancer diagnosis changes the lives of patients and their loved ones, so we take on the responsibilities of finding out when, where, and how your exposure occurred. We never charge any out-of-pocket attorneys' fees, and only get paid if we are successful in your case. If you are not awarded any money, we do not get paid.