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Lawyers seek limits on asbestos lawsuits

February 14, 2003
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The American Bar Association is urging Congress to restrict who can sue over exposure to cancer-causing asbestos. It's a stand that could cut the business of its own members.

ABA leaders argue that lawyers should accept blame for a crisis in courts overwhelmed with 600,000 asbestos claims, as well as the bankruptcies of dozens of companies that were sued.

Asbestos, a heat-resistant mineral once used widely in insulation and fireproofing, has been found to cause severe, sometimes deadly, health problems. Companies that ran mines and shipyards or used asbestos in products have been sued by former workers and consumers.

The ABA plan tries to differentiate between people who are really sick and those who are not. It sets medical standards for people who have been exposed to asbestos but do not have cancer. Those who do not qualify under the standards could not sue. They could go to court later if their conditions worsen.

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