Advocates for victims of mesothelioma in North Carolina and throughout the country are working hard to fight a bill that is currently supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Furthering Asbestos Claims Transparency Act – also known as the FACT Act – would complicate the process for victims seeking compensation for asbestos exposure, according to opponents of the bill.
The FACT Act would be an amendment to federal bankruptcy laws. Currently, asbestos companies can set funds aside in a trust that is protected if the company enters bankruptcy. The funds in the trust are used to compensate victims of asbestos exposure. Under the FACT Act, asbestos companies would have to report quarterly to the bankruptcy court. The reports must include a description of the claim as well as why the payment was made to the claimant.
Supporters of the FACT Act say it will help reduce the number of fraudulent claims. Opponents, however, argue that passing this bill would make it more challenging for victims of asbestos exposure to seek compensation. Not only that, but it would also make their claims public information. One woman from North Carolina who has mesothelioma said the bill “will make asbestos victims into victims [once] again.”
As we wait to see what happened with the FACT Act, it is important to recall the past. This is not the first time that asbestos companies have attempted to pass similar legislation. In fact, they tried in 2012 and 2013, but both attempts ultimately failed. Hopefully lawmakers will once again recognize the need to protect victims of asbestos exposure.
Source: Mesothelioma.com, “Get the FACTs: Proposed Bill Set to Silence Mesothelioma Victims,” Gary Cohn, March 24, 2015