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When it comes to compensation for the harm that asbestos has done, it would seem everyone from each side of the aisle would want victims to receive a fair amount. However, as the continued progress of the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act (FACT Act) shows, that seems not to be the case.
Facing the Facts
As the name implies, the alleged purpose of the bill is to create “transparency” in bankruptcy procedures for claims against trusts set up to handle asbestos-related lawsuits. This includes claims related to damaged property, personal injuries, and even wrongful death.
However, many critics of the bill point out that the requirements of the new law, if passed, would force victims of asbestos exposure – including those who develop malignant mesothelioma – to reveal private and personal information to the very corporations that wrongfully used asbestos in the first place.
These requirements are presented under the claim of “transparency” and adds another punishment to the already great suffering of asbestos victims. Furthermore, the new reporting and administrative requirements that are included in the bill would decrease the total amount of compensation available to victims from the established trust funds.
Veterans Most Harmed
Another aspect of the bill that many people have ignored is that veterans are some of the greatest victims of asbestos. Ironically, many of the backers of the FACT Act are the same politicians who publicly stand up and say we need to do more for our veterans. By turning around and supporting the bill, those politicians are actually turning their backs on the very veterans they claim to support.
The truth is, no matter how a victim is exposed to asbestos – whether by serving in the armed forces, working in a factory, or through other means of secondary exposure – treating them in a way that further victimizes them is simply wrong.
Although the FACT Act is not law yet, it has been making some progress in Congress. The House version of the bill, known as H.R. 526, was most recently voted on by the House Judiciary Committee. It passed the committee vote with a record of 19-9, which means the next step is for the bill to go before the House at large.
The corresponding Senate bill, S. 357, has been referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee and read twice before that committee. However, no additional action has been taken on the bill to date.
Big Business Backing
One of the reasons that the FACT Act has gained a foothold is because of the support it receives from large corporations. Just recently, it was shown that Charles and David Koch – the owners of Koch Industries have given money to all 19 members of the House Judiciary Committee that voted to pass the bill. Other big companies that support the bill include oil, telecommunications, railroads, and insurance interests.
Some representatives have received nearly $400,000 from various companies that do business in asbestos. It’s no wonder the FACT Act can find such great support in Congress, given the amount of money involved.
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