AAJ: House Asbestos Bill Offensive, Unnecessary

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For Immediate Release: March 6, 2013

Contact: Michelle Widmann Kimmel
American Association for Justice
202-944-2859
michelle.kimmel@justice.org

AAJ: House Asbestos Bill Offensive, Unnecessary
 
Reintroduction of bill continues House Judiciary Committee’s Anti-Accountability Campaign
 
Washington, DCThe following is a statement from American Association for Justice (AAJ) CEO Linda Lipsen in response to the reintroduction of H.R. 982, the so-called “Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2013:”
 
“Asbestos kills at least 10,000 Americans every year. Instead of working to protect Americans from this danger, today Members of the House Judiciary Committee reintroduced a bill to aid the asbestos corporations responsible for these deaths.
 
“This is unnecessary legislation that would allow the asbestos industry to delay and deny justice for dying asbestos victims. 
 
“It is offensive that the same corporations that hid the dangers of asbestos from the public for decades are now turning to Congress and asking for “transparency” in order to avoid accountability. 
 
“This is one of many reused efforts by the House Judiciary Committee to protect negligent corporations by eliminating accountability. 
 
“Corporations that knowingly kill and injure Americans should be held fully accountable, not granted a handout from Congress.”
 
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Background
H.R. 982 would require private asbestos bankruptcy trusts to publicly release extensive individual information about asbestos victims and would slow down asbestos cases by allowing asbestos defendants to bury the trusts in information requests, no matter how unnecessary or irrelevant.
 
This legislation is part of the latest tactic implemented by ALEC and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to let the asbestos industry off the hook. This strategy takes a three-pronged approach:
  • State legislation: In 2007, ALEC adopted the “Asbestos Claims Transparency Act.” Louisiana, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia, and Wisconsin 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: In the 112th Congress, H.R. 4369 was introduced in the House on April 17, 2012 and S.3076 was introduced in the Senate on May 10, 2012. In the 113th Congress, H.R. 982 was reintroduced on March 6, 2013.
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