FACT Act sees multitude of opposition; hearing set for this week

2 Feb 2016 by under Legal

Capitol 2004 by Ron Reznick digital images.net  100x100 FACT Act sees multitude of opposition; hearing set for this week Introduced by Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ), S. 2319, also known as the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act, claims to increase the transparency in the legal process for compensation of asbestos victims. But veterans, teachers and even first responders are speaking out against the legislation, saying that it would require asbestos victims to share too much personal information in order to receive reparations.

Veterans from 17 different organizations, such as the Air Force Sergeants Association () and the National Defense Council, signed a letter to Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to share their disapproval of the FACT Act.  The letter describes how the bill puts many of the organizations’ asbestos-victim veterans at risk of identity theft. This risk arises from the legislation’s requirement that victims file quarterly reports on its public bankruptcy dockets, which asks for personal information on the claimants.

“The bill is a cynical ploy by the asbestos industry to avoid compensating its victims who are seeking justice in court — many of whom are veterans who were doubly exposed; first while in uniform and when they went on to work for companies that knowingly exposed them to the deadly fiber,” the veterans groups said in its letter.

The second letter was signed by the International Association of Fire Fighters (), the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). The groups call on members of Congress to oppose the FACT Act and prevent the legislation from coming to fruition.

“Victims of asbestos exposure, including first responders and teachers, among many other dedicated public employees, are entitled to compensation from the companies that caused their illnesses,” they said in their letter. “S. 357, however, would give companies an unfair advantage over asbestos victims seeking justice for their injuries — speciously touted as a ‘transparency bill,’ the measure actually is designed to help the asbestos industry avoid paying victims through delay tactics and waste of scarce trust resources set aside for victims.”

A hearing is set for this Wednesday, Feb. 3, to discuss possible legislative fixes for the FACT Act and how to bring about greater transparency and accountability for the asbestos trust system without trampling on the rights of asbestos victims. The FACT Act’s origins trace to Republicans arguing that the asbestos trusts could be used fraudulently and take advantage of federal funds.

The Hill

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