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AAJ Statement on House Vote to Pass Bill Targeting Rights of Consumers, Workers, and Victims of Asbestos Poisoning

Senate must reject "Fairness in Class Action Litigation and Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act"

March 09,2017

Washington, DC—The following is a statement from American Association for Justice (AAJ) CEO Linda Lipsen in response to the U.S. House of Representatives passing “Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act and Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act” (H.R. 985):

“Today, the House of Representatives made it clear that it would rather shield powerful corporations from being held accountable for scamming, injuring, and discriminating against Americans, than protect our right to pursue justice. It is offensive that Congress would go so far to protect corporations that it would eliminate Americans’ ability to join together to hold them accountable in court.

“Sadly, the demolition of the civil justice system doesn’t stop there. H.R. 985 also puts the interests of the asbestos industry, which has knowingly poisoned people for decades, before the rights of veterans, workers, and innocent bystanders who are suffering and dying from asbestos related diseases. It is wrong for our representatives in government to delay and deny their compensation at the behest of the companies responsible for their deaths.

“The House has rushed H.R. 985 through Congress without a hearing and without input from legal experts or people who would be impacted by the bill – hoping that nobody would notice their ill-conceived plan to deprive Americans of their rights. This one-sided legislation only advances the interests of corporations that have killed and cheated Americans. The Senate should recognize this ridiculous bill for what it truly is – a corporate handout – and reject it.”

Background on H.R. 985

The Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act severely limits the ability of consumers and workers to join together as a class to stand up to powerful corporations that have wronged them. The civil justice system is often the only way Americans can hold wrongdoers accountable for causing widespread harm to thousands or millions of consumers and workers.

The Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act forfeits the privacy of individuals suffering from asbestos disease and their families. The bill puts the private information of asbestos victims – including their names and asbestos exposure histories – into a publicly accessible database, making them vulnerable to identity theft and online predators. The bill re-victimizes families impacted by asbestos disease, while doing nothing to protect Americans from future asbestos exposures.

Sammi Swing