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Bill would limit silica lawsuits

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A Missouri Senate committee is considering a bill that would help stave off expected class action lawsuits over rock dust exposure.

For some workers, a career spent working in an enclosed rock cutting environment can lead to a lung disease called silicosis. However, Sen. Eric Burlison, a Republican from Republic, is concerned that trial attorneys could exploit this diagnosis — possibly even suing over people being exposed to dust from gravel roads.

To address this concern, Sen. Burlison has filed Senate Bill 317.

“This is mostly addressing people creating class action claims simply because they may live near or drive down gravel roads and are able to make a claim because they breathe the dust from the gravel roads,” said Sen. Burlison.

The legislation would require that anyone seeking to file a silicosis lawsuit bring medical evidence that they have the condition and that it was caused by exposure to rock dust.

The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry testified in support of the legislation during a meeting of the Senate Government Reform Committee on February 26.

“We appreciate Sen. Burlison for bringing this bill forward and working to put Missouri one step ahead of this problem,” said Matt Panik, Missouri Chamber vice president of government relations.

The bill now awaits a vote in the Senate committee.

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