The Furthering Asbestos Claims Transparency (FACT) Act passed the House of Representatives as part of H.R. 985, the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017, by a 220-201 vote Thursday. The passage comes after the original FACT Act, H.R. 906, passed the House Judiciary Committee in mid-February and was rolled into the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2017 at the beginning of this month.
While supporters say the bill will reduce the number of false claims, anti-asbestos advocates contend it is just a way to deter lawsuits filed against negligent businesses and delay payments to mesothelioma victims, as MyMeso previously reported.
The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) released a statement following the FACT Act’s passage through the House stressing the negative impact the act will have on victims of asbestos. “Congress should be focusing on legislation to stop asbestos imports and ensure the EPA can expeditiously ban asbestos, not on providing handouts to the murderous asbestos industry,” ADAO President Linda Reinstein said in the statement. “The dangers of asbestos have been known since the early 1900s, but asbestos is still legal and lethal in the U.S., causing devastating illnesses and death for those exposed.
“Corporations that have knowingly and recklessly exposed Americans to a known carcinogen should be held accountable. It is reprehensible that the House has passed legislation that will let asbestos corporations off the hook, create significant privacy risks for victims, and delay compensation and justice.”
The bill claims to limit plaintiffs’ ability to “double-dip” into the asbestos injury trust system, according to a press release by the Judiciary Committee. It 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.” However, opponents assert the personal information the bill requires of those seeking asbestos compensation, including name, exposure history and basis for payment, could pose security issues and, overall, the bill would decrease dying victims’ likelihood of receiving compensation.
H.R. 985 is now headed to the Senate.