House of Representatives Passes Bill Hindering Mesothelioma and Asbestos Lawsuits
The Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act, or FACT Act, has been floating around Congress for years. The proposed law targets the system that is in place for compensating victims of asbestos exposure who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Though it promises to increase transparency and preserve funds for those who have been harmed, opponents argue that it reveals personal information of asbestos victims and will make people hesitate about filing for compensation that they deserve. This week a 2017 version of the bill was passed again in the House, and its sponsors are hoping that if it passes in the Senate it will be approved by President Donald J. Trump. It has been opposed by 18 veterans groups.
What is the FACT Act?
The FACT Act was first introduced to the House of Representatives in 2013 by U.S. Representative Blake Farenthold of Texas, and has been reintroduced nearly every year since then. It has repeatedly passed in the House of Representatives but has failed to move through the Senate or to reach the President’s desk. According to Farenthold, who serves on the House Judiciary Committee and the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, “When attorneys and their clients bring false or exaggerated claims to trusts, they take assets from deserving victims. The FACT Act will discourage this kind of abuse by shining light on the trust system, as sunlight is often the best disinfectant.” The bill would require quarterly reports on claims made to asbestos trusts, as well as requiring the trusts to provide information on claims to defendants in asbestos lawsuits.
Combining the FACT Act with the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act
Passage of the FACT Act, which will affect victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases, came after it was combined with another bill, the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act. This bill requires that when a class action suit is filed against a company, every member of the suit must prove that they have suffered the same extent of injury. Those who opposed this bill argued that it will make it almost impossible to bring class-action lawsuits in the future, and is designed to protect defendants including pharmaceutical companies, companies that harm people through faulty product design or manufacturing processes, victims of lead or asbestos poisoning, and even those accused of sex discrimination of sexual harassment. Representative Jamie Raskin, a Democrat from Maryland, said of the combined bill, “I oppose this misguided legislation because it sends another huge valentine and wet kiss to large corporate polluters and tortfeasors, but gives the finger to millions of American citizens who suffer injuries from these defendants.”
Our Patient Advocates Continue to Work for Mesothelioma Victims
There are fears that the FACT Act, if passed into law, will do tremendous additional harm to those who have already suffered as a result of asbestos exposure. Victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases need support and information about the resources available to them, and the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net provide that support on a daily basis. For information about accessing the asbestos bankruptcy trusts, about medical resources near you and how to join a support community, call us at 1-800-692-8608 today.
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