So-called asbestos transparency legislation turns justice inside out

10 Feb 2015 by under Legal, News

Gavel Scales of Justice American flag square 100x100 So called asbestos transparency legislation turns justice inside outThe Furthering Claims Transparency Act () may possibly be the most astoundingly backward “call to justice” ever proposed. Supporters of the proposed legislation are looking to protect the corporate wrongdoers who exposed thousands of innocent workers and their families to asbestos disease, while calling for victims to be excoriated as greedy grubbers out for a dime.

In this scenario, proponents of the “Transparency Act” are working to portray the companies responsible for asbestos diseases including asbestosis and mesothelioma as victims. They say asbestos litigation is out of control, and say the number of asbestos victims, and the severity of their injuries, is being overplayed by lawyers.

The FACT Act will not, as its name seems to imply, make it easier for asbestos victims to find out information about how, where and when they may have been exposed to asbestos. It will not provide clarity about medical assistance or financial compensation for injuries. No, the FACT Act seeks to further victimize people harmed by asbestos exposure by requiring that their personal information – medical records, employment history, income, family relationships – be made public.

This, the legislation’s advocates say, will prevent a victim from taking from multiple asbestos compensation funds. They paint lawyers who represent asbestos victims as having all the power.

But, just who are these FACT Act backers? Some of the most powerful lobbying groups in the nation. In fact, Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy watchdog organization, notes the asbestos lobby includes such powerhouses as Koch Industries , the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and even WR Grace. Yes, the mining company that desiccated the town of Libby, Mont., now one of the largest Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund sites, with asbestos.

While Weissman acknowledges that federal lobbying disclosure laws do not require organizations or individuals to say exactly where each dollar goes, he notes that asbestos is mentioned 1,362 times by asbestos manufacturers, insurance companies and asbestos trade associations, while lawyers who represent asbestos victims or labor unions mentioned asbestos in relation to lobbying 186 times. Just whose message do you think is getting through?

Please don’t allow these powerful corporations and lobbyists to turn the perpetrators of asbestos disease and death into victims. Don’t let them force the true victims – people suffering with asbestos diseases – jump through hoops and wade through red tape to get the justice to which they are fairly entitled.

Transparency is definitely needed. But it is needed on the part of the manufacturers and industries that for years concealed the deadly nature of asbestos and exposed hundreds of thousands of people to completely preventable disease.

Huffington Post
Public Citizen

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