Maryland’s current laws do not favor workers who have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. The state prohibits employees from filing claims against their employers for injuries that were incurred more than twenty years earlier, and though business advocates claim that this is to prevent businesses from having to defend against claims years after the fact, the simple fact that mesothelioma has such a long latency period means that the law effectively prohibits people who have the rare and fatal form of cancer from getting the justice that they deserve. But now the family of a pipe fitter who died of mesothelioma three years ago is trying to change all that: though they’ve been denied in two lower courts, the family of steamfitter James F. Piper is arguing before the Maryland Court of Appeals to be allowed to have their day in court.
Piper worked for a Maryland power plant in the 1970s, where he was exposed to the asbestos that eventually led to his 2014 death from mesothelioma. Though his family attempted to file a claim for damages in his death, both the Baltimore City Circuit Court and the Maryland Court of Special Appeals turned the family away. Now the decision rests with the state’s highest court, which has heard arguments from the family and supported by a variety of union and trade groups, and arguments against changing the existing rule made on behalf of the company’s new owner and a business group that includes the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers and others. Those who are supporting the asbestos company argue that “the burdens of litigation should not be endless,” while those arguing in support of Piper’s family indicate that the current rules are “depriving tens of thousands of citizens of their respective rights to an effective remedy.”
Because malignant mesothelioma has a latency period that typically expands beyond forty years, the current red line of twenty years effectively prevents anybody that has been exposed to and sickened by asbestos from getting the legal justice that is offered to victims of other types of workplace injuries. There is no word on when the court will hand down its decision.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease like mesothelioma, you need the help of an experienced mesothelioma attorney. Call us today at 1-800-966-2244 to learn more about how we can help.