House Judiciary Committee approves controversial FACT Act to regulate asbestos trusts

20 Feb 2017 by under Legal, News

United States House of Representatives 2017 100x100 House Judiciary Committee approves controversial FACT Act to regulate asbestos trusts

The House Judiciary Committee approved a bill last week targeting  injury . The bill, the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2017 (FACT Act) or H.R. 906, claims to “weed out unmeritorious class action claims,” according to Forbes. The act, which met tough opposition during its last run, was reintroduced by Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) this year in hopes a Republican majority in Congress would see the bill signed into law by the Republican president.

H.R. 906 passed the committee by a 19-11 vote. And though it has managed to slip back onto the docket, all of the previous opposition still applies, as Legal Newsline confirmed it was the same version as last year’s bill.

The bill is designed to limit plaintiffs’ ability to “double-dip” into the asbestos injury trust system, according to a press release by the Judiciary Committee. The system was created when about 100 companies that were frequently named defendants in asbestos lawsuits filed bankruptcy to create trusts to compensate victims without having to go through the civil courts, according to Legal Newsline. The bill claims to do this by requiring asbestos trusts to file quarterly reports on their public bankruptcy documents that contain information about the demands of and payments from the trusts. It would also require the trusts to respond to “claims asserted against, and payments made by, the asbestos trusts.”

While supporters say the bill will reduce the number of false claims, anti-asbestos advocates feel it is just a way to deter lawsuits filed against negligent businesses and delay payments to mesothelioma victims.

Last year, veterans, teachers and first responders spoke out against the act, which puts those seeking compensation at risk of identity theft, MyMeso previously reported. The personal information the bill requires of those seeking asbestos compensation, including name, exposure history and basis for payment, could pose security issues, opponents assert.

“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,” more than 15 veterans groups said in a letter opposing the act last year.

Another similar letter stated, “(The bill) 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.”

The FACT Act is now heading to the full House of Representatives for a vote.

 

 

 

 

 

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