Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act


 

The FACT Act is part of a national campaign that is being led by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the national Chamber of Commerce to pass federal and state legislation that would significantly harm asbestos victims. The legislation is designed to make it more difficult for asbestos victims, including those with Mesothelioma and other cancers, to receive compensation for their injuries through asbestos trusts and the court system. As it stands, asbestos victims rarely receive anything close to adequate compensation. The goal of the FACT Act, under the guise of transparency, is designed to reduce this compensation even more.

Specifically, the bill, titled the “Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act” (FACT Act), would require asbestos trusts to publicly disclose information about the settlement terms between trusts and claimants. Under current state and federal rules, the terms of and negotiations surrounding settlements of cases are treated as private and strictly confidential information, not subject to discovery or admissible in court cases.

ALEC and the National Chamber of Commerce are seeking to change the law of confidentiality only as it concerns asbestos victims, and specifically, as it pertains to settlements with and compensation from, asbestos trusts. The FACT Act would require asbestos trust administrators for the first time, to reveal openly and publicly this private confidential information from claimants. Non-public confidential information concerning asbestos defendants, on the other hand, would be preserved as confidential and protected.

The legislation’s proponents claim that the legislation is necessary to ensure transparency of the asbestos claims process to protect against alleged double-recovery by asbestos victims – more than what they allegedly deserve – from the companies responsible for their diseases. There is no truth this claim.

This bill has not been enacted. However, asbestos defendants and their allies, under the purview of organizations such as ALEC, are attempting to pass equally troublesome legislation at the state level. So far, the proponents have not sought disclosure of the same information (or “transparency”) from their co-defendants in the tort system.

Update (Nov. 13, 2013):

On November 13, 2013, H.R. 982, the FACT Act, passed the U.S. House on a 221-199 vote, sending the bill to the Senate despite bi-partisan opposition.

Update (May 12, 2014):

On May 12, 2014, S. 2319, also known as the FACT Act, was introduced into the U.S. Senate. Introduced by Sen. Flake [R-AZ], this piece of legislation is the Senate’s version of H.R. 982 and includes the same intrusive and unjust components. We urge all asbestos victims and their families to get involved, sign the petition and contact their senators to go on record opposing this anti-victim and anti-veteran bill.

Source:

Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2012, H.R. 4369, 112th Cong. § 2(8)(A)(i) (2012).

 
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