Philadelphia based Crown Holdings, Inc., a company with three manufacturing plants in the state of Minnesota, is presently paying lobbyists to lobby the Minnesota State Legislature to make changes to product liability laws in the state. They hope to escape future liability from lawsuits brought by Mesothelioma patients for exposures to asbestos caused by the company.
Asbestos fibers, when inhaled, can cause Asbestosis, Lung Cancer, and Mesothelioma, an incurable disease the claims the lives of thousands of Americans every year. Often symptoms from the disease do not result for decades after the exposure to asbestos fibers has occurred. Veterans of the United States Navy and of the other U.S. Armed Forces, as well as those who worked in the construction industry, are particularly at risk for Mesothelioma, as compared to the rest of the population. This is due to the fact the asbestos was used extensively as in insulator aboard naval vessels, and as a durable heat resistant binder in construction materials.
Crown claims that it actually never manufactured any asbestos containing products itself, but rather merged with a separate company in 1963, that had manufactured the asbestos containing products. Thus, the company believes it is being wrongly punished for the acts that a separate company committed against the public. However, advocates for victims of asbestos related disease believe Crown is playing a word game, and are critical of Crown’s claims.
California attorney Mike Mandelbrot, of the Asbestos Legal Center in San Francisco, whose firm has filed thousands claims on behalf of individuals suffering from mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis, believes Crown’s claims to be meritless, “Crown is today worth over eight billion dollars, in part, as a result of it’s merger with a company that exposed thousands of people needlessly to asbestos. Where it has profited from the merger, it also must accept responsibility for it, to those many families who now suffer from profits made at the expense of the public’s health.”
Crown claims that it has been involved in approximately one hundred and fifty asbestos related lawsuits in Minnesota in the last fifteen years, resulting in over seven hundred million dollars in litigation expenses and damages. That the lawsuits be allowed to continue Crown believes is inequitable.
“The fact that there are still lawsuits being filed against Crown, is because people are still dying from mesothelioma and asbestos exposure caused by the company’s bad acts. Every victim and their family deserve justice.”, according to Mr. Mandelbrot. “Crown’s efforts highlight the disturbing trend of money influencing politics at the expense of those who have been injured by unchecked corporate greed.”
The Minnesota State Legislature is not the first state legislature that Crown has lobbied for changes in product liability law. With the help of The American Legislative Exchange Council, Crown has successfully lobbied for changes in the product liability law of fifteen other states. Those who oppose Crown’s efforts point out that workers compensation claims related to asbestos exposure were being filed against the company Crown merged with prior to 1963, thus Crown was on notice of the asbestos liability issue prior to merging with the company.
If you or a loved one is suffering from an asbestos related disease, the Asbestos Legal Center and attorney Mike Mandelbrot can be reached at 1-800-970-3878.