Mesothelioma patient wants Indiana Asbestos Exposure Law amended

An Indiana woman diagnosed with mesothelioma spoke in front of a legislative committee October 1, 2009, emphasizing the importance of amending an Indiana law that would allow additional time for workers exposed to asbestos to file a lawsuit against those who caused their exposure.

Dorothy Kuykendall, 76, and others are working to change the law that currently give those exposed to asbestos 10 years to file a lawsuit after the initial exposure occurs. However, patients with certain asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma and asbestosis can take 10 to 50 years to demonstrate symptoms of their illnesses.

Kuykendall and other supporters of a change to the current law want the law amended to allow those diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease to have two years from the time of diagnosis to file a lawsuit. Those supporting the change to the law note that Indiana is the only state in the nation that does not provide exceptions to state laws for illnesses with long latency periods.

“My husband is 13 years older than I am, and I was sure I would be able to take care of him until he died, but that’s not going to happen,” Kuykendall said to the panel.  “He’s caring for me, and with all my medical bills, I’m afraid he won’t have enough income to live in our home.”

“On behalf of all the other families who have lost loved ones to this awful disease, I beg you to recognize us and at least have a chance to find out who is responsible for what happened,” said Sharon Wilson, whose husband passed away from mesothelioma in April 2008. Wilson’s husband Jim was exposed to asbestos during summer construction jobs and the family is currently unable to file a lawsuit against those responsible for Jim Wilson’s exposure.

“Jim was a husband, a father and a grandfather,” Wilson explained to the legislative committee on Thursday. “I am angry with my state, that the state sees no value in my husband’s life and death or the economic hardships our family now suffers.”

No one testified against the proposal and according to Democratic Rep. Linda Lawson of Hammond, Indiana, the proposal amending the law will resurface in the legislative session beginning in January 2010.

Additional information about mesothelioma may be found through the Mesothelioma Center.

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