Change to California Law Benefits Mesothelioma Plaintiffs

In an amendment to its Code of Civil Procedure (CCP), the state of California now limits the length of a plaintiff's deposition. The change is expected to benefit mesothelioma victims involved in asbestos litigation, as well as other personal injury plaintiffs. For certain personal injury lawsuits, including those related to asbestos, the deposition of a plaintiff by defense attorneys is now limited to two days of seven hours of testimony or fourteen hours total. In these cases, a licensed physician must testify that the witness has less than six months to live. A deposition is meant to secure the plaintiff's testimony should he or she not survive long enough to speak at the trial. In California, prior to January 1, 2013, defense attorneys could deliberately delay or otherwise lengthen the time period for a deposition. Sometimes, plaintiffs would become too ill to continue or pass away before their deposition could be concluded. In such cases, none of the witness's deposition testimony could be used at trial. With this new law (contained in CCP Section 2025.290), victims of asbestos exposure, including those with mesothelioma, are more likely to survive their depositions and realize the justice they deserve. This is a significant win for mesothelioma victims. Asbestos exposure causes lung diseases and mesothelioma, which is an incurable and fatal cancer. Those at the highest risk for developing mesothelioma are people who suffered exposure in the workplace, typically in the manufacturing, engineering, and construction industries, as well as in all branches of the U.S. Military. Due to the long latency period of mesothelioma, people who were exposed to asbestos up to 50 years ago could still develop the disease. Mesothelioma symptoms such as respiratory distress also appear due to the common cold and the flu, which can make diagnosis difficult. In order to properly identify mesothelioma symptoms, doctors will typically need a thorough medical history detailing past asbestos exposure. In such cases, doctors can keep watch for any symptoms that may indicate an asbestos-related disease and order the necessary tests to make a diagnosis. Anyone with a history of asbestos exposure who is experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms should talk to their healthcare professional about potential asbestos injuries. Reference: Assembly Bill No. 1875, CHAPTER 346
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