AAJ: Controversial Asbestos Bill Offensive, Unnecessary and Must be Stopped

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For Immediate Release: May 21, 2013

Contact: Michelle Widmann Kimmel
American Association for Justice
202-944-2859
michelle.kimmel@justice.org

AAJ: Controversial Asbestos Bill Offensive, Unnecessary and Must be Stopped

Despite bipartisan opposition, House Judiciary Committee passes bill that delays, denies justice for asbestos victims

Washington, DCThe following is a statement from American Association for Justice (AAJ) CEO Linda Lipsen in response to the Judiciary Committee markup of H.R. 982, the so-called “Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2013:”

“Asbestos kills at least 10,000 Americans every year.  Instead of working to protect Americans from this danger, today the House Judiciary Committee voted on a controversial bill that grants a handout to the asbestos corporations responsible for these deaths.

“This is unnecessary and offensive legislation that would allow the asbestos industry to delay and deny justice for dying asbestos victims. 

“It is beyond hypocritical that the same corporations that hid the dangers of asbestos from the public for decades have asked Congress for ‘transparency’ in order to avoid accountability.

“Corporations that knowingly kill and injure Americans should be held fully accountable, not let off the hook by Congress.”

Background

H.R. 982 would require private asbestos bankruptcy trusts to publicly release extensive individual information about asbestos victims and would slow down asbestos cases by allowing asbestos defendants to bury the trusts in information requests, no matter how unnecessary or irrelevant.

This legislation is part of the latest tactic implemented by ALEC and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to let the asbestos industry off the hook.  This strategy takes a three-pronged approach:

  • State legislation: In 2007, ALEC adopted the “Asbestos Claims Transparency Act.” LA, MS, PA, OH, OK, TX, WV, and WI have seen versions of this legislation.
  • Judicial Conference: On November 22, 2010, the U.S. Chamber made a direct appeal to the Judicial Conference to change the rules governing bankruptcy law.
  • Federal legislation: H.R.982 was introduced on March 6, 2013.  In the 112th Congress, H.R.4369 / S.3076 were introduced in the House and Senate.

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