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Congressional Proposal Designed to Run Out the Clock on Asbestos Victims

WASHINGTON - Even the asbestos industry has its defenders on Capitol Hill. Their support for the deadly carcinogen and the industries that use it was on display when the “Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2012” was introduced last month.

The proposal, authored by Rep. Benjamin Quayle (R-Ariz) with the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the industry-funded American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC would place new burdens on asbestos trusts, which exist solely to compensate present and future victims of asbestos disease. The Quayle bill would allow companies responsible for these trusts to squander their assets, force victims to submit mountains of information and even deny compensation to victims. In short, the bill is designed to swamp the claims process with paperwork so that victims seeking compensation may never collect.

“Asbestos, a known human carcinogen, remains a lethal public health hazard. On behalf of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), we are strongly opposed to the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2012 (H.R. 4369), which creates another burden for patients and families to overcome during an extremely difficult time,” said Linda Reinstein, co-founder, president and CEO of ADAO. “Delayed or denied compensation would gravely impact patients’ pursuit of medical care and justice. As a mesothelioma widow, I am disappointed when Congressional legislative efforts continue to focus on litigation instead of education. Americans need legislation that will prevent environmental and occupational asbestos-caused diseases and stop the continued import of asbestos across our border to meet manufacturing demands. As consumers and workers, it is Americans that deserve transparency to prevent exposure.”

“The only thing transparent about this bill is the blatant support for the industry’s decades’ long effort to run out the clock on a victim’s ability to collect a claim before he or she dies,” said Heather White, chief of staff and general counsel for the Environmental Working Group.

An estimated 10,000 Americans die each year from asbestos-related diseases. Many live only months after being diagnosed.

EWG has documented the asbestos epidemic and the industry’s aggressive campaign to hide the dangers from the public and deny justice to those who have died.

White has written the chairman and ranking members of the House Judiciary Committee where the legislation will first be considered:

Touted as a sunshine proposal, the bill fundamentally fails to understand health problems related to asbestos exposure and how the legal system compensates victims of asbestos disease. If signed into law, the FACT Act would significantly delay or deny justice for thousands of victims of the great asbestos tragedy. The public deserves better.

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