U.S. Chamber, ALEC Backed Campaign Threatens Justice for Dying Asbestos Cancer Victims
Controversial legislation protects industry that kills thousands of Americans
Washington, DC— Front groups working on behalf of corporations that profited from asbestos, covered-up the dangers of the product, and knowingly killed thousands of Americans have convinced Ohio lawmakers to pass a bill that grants unprecedented legal protections to the asbestos industry. This is part of a nationwide campaign led by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The goal is to allow asbestos corporations to deny accountability and delay justice until asbestos cancer victims die.
The asbestos industry, made up of corporations like Honeywell, Koch Industries, and ExxonMobil, is one of the major corporate financiers of ALEC and the U.S. Chamber. For years, these two corporate front groups have waged a campaign to let asbestos corporations and their insurers off-the-hook for killing American workers and their families. Behind-the-scenes they have orchestrated efforts to vilify cancer victims, mislead the public with propaganda and limit accountability through legislation. Their newest tactic is to take advantage of the asbestos bankruptcy trust system.
“Asbestos kills over 10,000 Americans every year. It is appalling that the corporations responsible for this tragedy want to pass the buck to victims and taxpayers,” said American Association for Justice (AAJ) President Mary Alice McLarty. “The asbestos industry should be held accountable for the lives they destroyed, not granted access to state and federal lawmakers through ALEC and the U.S. Chamber.”
The campaign has a multi-pronged approach focusing on the federal, state, and judicial levels. On the state level, ALEC hands model legislation to local elected-officials while the U.S. Chamber funds state efforts and backs federal proposals. This approach is further detailed below.
Despite bipartisan opposition, the Ohio bill, HB 380, passed out of the Senate yesterday. If Governor Kasich does not veto this legislation, Ohio will become the first state to rubber stamp this effort. Other states could follow. Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas and West Virginia have already seen versions of this legislation.
“The last thing the asbestos industry deserves is a handout,” commented McLarty. “Elected officials should instead protect cancer victims’ rights.”
The Campaign to Grant Big Asbestos a Handout
- State legislation: In 2007, ALEC adopted the “Asbestos Claims Transparency Act.” Oklahoma, Louisiana, Texas, and West Virginia have seen versions of this legislation.
- Judicial Conference: On November 22, 2010, the U.S. Chamber made a direct appeal to the Judicial Conference to change the rules governing bankruptcy law.
- Federal legislation: On April 17, 2012, H.R. 4369 was introduced in the House. On May 10, 2012 S.3076 was introduced in the U.S. Senate.