FACT Act Update: One-Sided Bill Remains a Threat to Asbestos Victims and Families
Legislation Still Under Consideration in House of Representatives
The so-called FACT Act (Furthering Asbestos Transparency Claims Act, House Resolution 982) is currently parked in the House, waiting to go to the floor for a vote.
The U.S. House Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law passed it out of committee on May 21 by a vote of 17 to 14. Now, it awaits consideration from the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. If approved, it would go to the U.S. Senate for review.
This is a special interest bill. The proposed legislation purports to seek greater “transparency” of asbestos trusts by imposing extensive reporting requirements on the trusts and victims. Yet none of the groups that are connected to the asbestos trust system – the private companies that have set up and fund the trusts, asbestos victims, the trust administrators or the bankruptcy courts – support this legislation.
Companies who are defendants in asbestos lawsuits outside of the bankruptcy process are seeking this legislation in order to use the asbestos trust system to collect personal and private information on individual victims. This information will, in turn, be used as a legal advantage against victims in court.
In March, the Wall Street Journal published a biased article attacking asbestos lawsuits and bankruptcy trusts. It misleadingly portrayed the trusts as riddled with fraud. However, a 2011 Government Accountability Office study found that asbestos trusts are transparent and have measures in place to prevent fraud. This study, which was conducted at the request of House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith, was not mentioned in the WSJ article.
The WSJ concluded federal legislation is needed to prevent fraud in the trust system, while other independent sources show the opposite. The FACT Act is part of a national campaign led by asbestos companies not currently part of the trust system, the American Legislative Exchange Council and the National Chamber of Commerce.
The one-sided nature of this bill is undeniable. The bill does not hold the companies to the same transparency standards because it does not require them to fulfill similar reporting requirements.
Asbestos victims are speaking out against the FACT Act through the Asbestos Cancer Victims’ Rights Campaign. They need your help. It is imperative everyone contact their U.S. Representatives and ask them to stand up for cancer victims by voting against HR 982 when it comes to the House floor for a vote.
How to Make Your Voice Heard
Go to www.CancerVictimsRights.org to sign a petition against this bill. You will see a “Take Action” button on the right side of the website. Click the button and follow the instructions. It only takes a few minutes to sign and send a message to your Congressional Representatives that you oppose the bill.
If you have already signed the petition, please consider directly contacting your personal U.S. Representative. Click here to find your senators’ and representatives’ contact information. By sending an e-mail or speaking to someone at their offices, you will showcase your public support for victims of asbestos.