Lonely battle for tough cause in Nevada Legislature
April 12, 2003
Two women suffering from breast implant surgery gone bad — and with no money for high-paid lobbyists — couldn’t get lawmakers to act by a Friday deadline on a bill that would have helped them sue for damages.
Joy Simmons, 57, and Gaylene Ausem, 52, tried unsuccessfully for a hearing on AB50, extending the statute of limitations for lawsuits against manufacturers of breast implants that cause harm.
The bill stalled in the Assembly Judiciary Committee, where it had been sent Feb. 6 — in the first week of the 2003 session.
Simmons and Ausem said the measure would have provided people who voted “no” on Dow Corning’s global settlement regarding silicone implants a chance to seek compensation — but they got the run-around from lawmakers.
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.
The Assembly unanimously passed a similar bill in 2001, but that proposal went nowhere in the Senate. This year, Assembly Judiciary Chairman Bernie Anderson, D-Sparks, wouldn’t call AB50 for a hearing.
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Anderson said it isn’t proper to tamper with statutes of limitations because they provide stability for the insurance industry.
“The question is, do the statutes … when you can no longer pursue anything, do they mean anything? That’s the question,” Anderson said.
His second reason was more political, Simmons and Ausem said, adding that Anderson told them Senate Majority Leader William Raggio, R-Reno, didn’t like it and so it would be a waste of time to hold a hearing.
Raggio said Friday he doesn’t deal with bills that go to committees he doesn’t chair.
“I don’t interfere with these bills,” he said.
Senate Commerce and Labor Chairman Randolph Townsend, R-Reno, held a hearing on the 2001 bill in his committee after it won Assembly approval, but said he didn’t call it for a vote because the support wasn’t there to pass it.
Townsend said Friday he was never approached about the latest measure, and never said he wouldn’t hold a hearing on it.
“I never heard about it until you just called,” Townsend said. “I didn’t even know it was out there.”
Simmons and Ausem aren’t giving up on AB50, which had 17 co-sponsors.
“We intend to pull out everything we can pull out,” Simmons said. “In the bottom-of-our-heart opinion, our bill isn’t dead until the Legislature ends in June.”