A Comment on Asbestos Legislation


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The Proposed Legislation, Senate Bill S. 852, in Washington, D. C. , is under-funded, unfair, unworkable and unconstitutional.

While legislation proposed in Washington, D. C. , by Pennsylvania Senator, Arlen Specter, on its face seems to allay many issues regarding litigation over asbestos-related disease, the Asbestos Bill actually raises impossible hurdles for victims and bails out politically well-connected corporations.

Senator Specter acknowledges that he can't pass a ‘perfect’ bill, but offers little solace to the mesothelioma victims who'll die before they see any help from the fundamentally flawed asbestos bailout bill approved by the Judiciary Committee.

Every major asbestos victims’ organization opposes this bill, while being supported by the corporate defendants who knowingly poisoned their workers and the public with asbestos and would receive billions of dollars in liability relief.

A few of the fundamental problems with the fund include:

  • The fund is under-funded by at least $16 billion (according to the CBO) and possibly as much as $49 billion (analysis by asbestos claims expert Mark Peterson) or even $100 billion (Environmental Working Group). Bankruptcy of the fund and taxpayer bailout is likely.

  • Every single similar government trust fund has failed.

  • In its current form the fund will immediately be mired in litigation from existing asbestos trusts, insurance companies, small businesses, and the thousands of victims unfairly excluded from the fund.

  • By moving all pending claims into the fund, the fund is guaranteed to have a huge backlog at startup.

  • Victims with community exposure and 9/11 victims - even firefighters, police, and emergency workers - are barred from receiving any compensation. The disparity between their treatment and the treatment of similar victims in Libby, Montana is likely unconstitutional.

  • There is no real sunset process for victims to return to the courts when the fund becomes bankrupt.

  • While treating unfairly or shutting out those poisoned by asbestos, the companies that poisoned them are rewarded with a multi-billion dollar bailout.

    Proposed Asbestos Bailout Bill is Taking Away Veterans’ Rights

    In addition to being unfair to victims of asbestos disease, the Asbestos Bill is similarly bad for veterans. Thousands of veterans across this country do not support this bill.

    Veterans, like all Americans, have always had the right to go to court to hold accountable the companies that knowingly poisoned them. Historically, they have been able to receive court-approved compensation to cope with the devastating health and financial consequences of asbestos-related diseases. Now, asbestos companies, their insurers and some Senators want to take that right away with a bill that shortchanges asbestos victims and rewards companies that poisoned them.

    The asbestos bill terminates the legal rights of all current and future asbestos victims and forces them into an untested national trust fund bureaucracy that would be under-funded by at least $40 billion. The bill would delay financial relief to veterans and other asbestos victims by up to nine years - time many dying asbestos victims just don't have.

    Under the proposed bill, many veterans with asbestos-related diseases will not qualify for any compensation at all. Very few veterans are likely to meet the five and ten year cumulative exposure requirements under the bill because they will not have been in the service long enough to qualify.

    The bill bails out the very asbestos and insurance companies that knowingly exposed veterans to asbestos.

    Action You Can Take

    While the Asbestos Bill is unfair and serves to limit rights and remedies of victims in favor of multi-billion dollar corporations, you can take action to help defeat this bill. Please call your Senators and Congressional Representatives and let them know that you oppose this bill.

    For more information visit http://www.mesothelioma.com or view the full article at http://www.mesothelioma.com/asbestos_news_bill852.htm.

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