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Asbestos Industry-Backed FACT Act Passed by House GOP's-But Not Likely to Go Any Further

US News reports that on Wednesday, November 13, 2013 the House approved House Resolution 982, the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act (FACT Act) in a vote 221-199. The FACT Act is part of a national campaign being led by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and National Chamber of Commerce to limit compensation paid to asbestos victims and delay justice.

There is good news though. According to the article, the Democratic-controlled Senate has no plans to take up the bill, and the White House on Tuesday said President Barack Obama would veto it. “The bill’s mandatory reporting and disclosure requirements would threaten asbestos victims’ privacy when they seek payment for injuries from an asbestos bankruptcy trust,” the White House said in a statement of administration policy opposing the bill.

On Tuesday, Linda Reinstein, Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) President/CEO and Co-Founder along with members of the Alliance for Justice, the American Association for Justice and the Asbestos Cancer Victims’ Rights Campaign, attended a House Staff briefing to oppose the bill and urge representatives to vote against the FACT Act.

This legislation is an invasion of privacy which seeks to require patients and their families to post personal financial information, information about their dependents and the last four digits of their Social Security numbers on a public website. The bill will not only limit justice received by victims, but will ultimately open them and their families up to potential identity theft.

It would also have claimants seek compensation through the asbestos trust system before going through their state court to seek damages against companies, some states already have this law in practice.

Supporters of the legislation claim that rampant fraud is occurring in the system, fraud for which they have no definitive proof. They say this fraud occurs when people file claims against one trust blaming it for their asbestos disease, then make the same claims to other trusts as well as to companies in court.

Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases are not typically caused by a single exposure to asbestos. In almost all cases, the disease is caused by the cumulative effect of many, sometimes countless, exposures throughout a person’s lifetime. Accordingly, asbestos disease is almost always the result of exposures to a wide variety of asbestos products from a multitude of different manufacturers and suppliers. It has long since been established that these companies knew about the dangers of asbestos and kept it mum.

The asbestos company owners, such as the Koch brothers, who are behind the so-called FACT legislation, have distorted the facts in an effort to convince the public that persons claiming that their asbestos disease was caused by more than one manufacturer’s product are committing a fraud. In reality, it is the supporters of this legislation who are committing a fraud—a fraud which, not surprisingly, inures to the financial interests of asbestos companies at the expense of the financial and privacy interests of asbestos illness sufferers.