Bill extending Nevada’s deadline for breast implant suit dead
April 8, 2003
A bill extending Nevada’s statute of limitations for lawsuits against silicone breast implant manufacturers passed the Assembly in 2001 — but won’t get an Assembly committee hearing this session.
AB50 would reinstate the course of action a person could take against a silicone breast implant manufacturer if the implant had leaked or caused her other harm.
Assemblywoman Ellen Koivisto, D-Las Vegas, said her bill helps people who didn’t know anything was wrong when the statute of limitations expired in their cases, or who had rejected a global settlement offer.
Assembly Judiciary Chairman Bernie Anderson, D-Sparks, said he won’t hold a hearing on the bill. While women have obviously been hurt, he said statutes of limitations exist for a reason.
Anderson said insurance companies rely on the knowledge those limitations exist when setting their rates, and if the state tampers with a statute for one item, it undermines all of the others.
“The question is, do the statutes … when you can no longer pursue anything, do they mean anything? That’s the question,” Anderson said.
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Anderson also said it wouldn’t be prudent to spend time hearing the bill when there’s no indication it would be taken up in the Senate.
Joy Simmons, 57, and Gaylene Ausem, 52, picketed on the steps of the Legislature Monday encouraging Anderson to have a hearing on the bill. Both received silicone injections more than 30 years ago and now have numerous medical problems.
They said the measure provides people who voted “no” on Dow Corning’s global settlement regarding silicone implants the opportunity to seek compensation. Dow Corning, based in Midland, MI, is a 50-50 joint venture between Dow Chemical Co. and Corning Inc. and has been in bankruptcy since 1995.
Simmons said she’s skipping a doctor’s appointment to picket in Carson City because public knowledge about the issue is essential.
“I’m not going to live anyway,” Simmons said. “This is too important, to get the word out on what this stuff really does.”
There are roughly 170,000 breast implant claimants globally.
Koivisto said the issue is one that deserves a hearing, especially since it’s a measure that passed the Assembly unanimously in the 2001 session. She also said Dow Chemical has lobbied very heavily on the issue.
“It almost looks like Dow and the other chemical companies are just hoping that eventually these women will die off and the problem will go away by attrition,” Koivisto said.
Dow lobbyists have maintained that approving Koivisto’s proposal would gut the judicial system. They say statutes of limitation are important because they ensure that defendants can properly defend themselves before evidence is lost, memories have faded or witnesses have disappeared.