Jan. 27, 2015

FACT Act Adds Insult to Injury for Asbestos Victims

Statement of Susan Harley, Deputy Director, Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division

Note: Yesterday, U.S. Representative Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) introduced H.R. 526, the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act (FACT Act), a bill that invades the privacy of asbestos disease victims and that will have the effect of delaying compensation for those suffering with lethal diseases like mesothelioma. Every year approximately 10,000 Americans die because of diseases like mesothelioma and other lung cancers that are linked to asbestos exposure, the dangerous product that was once ubiquitous as insulation and flame retardant in buildings, homes and workplaces such as naval vessels.

Rep. Farenthold’s bill is an affront to asbestos victims, many of whom are veterans, and their families. Paperwork requirements imposed on claims trusts will have the effect of delaying justice for victims – often for too long – leaving victims’ survivors struggling to pay medical and funeral bills. Despite a lack of evidence of fraud in asbestos claims trusts, the FACT Act adds insult to injury by inexcusably invading the privacy of victims by requiring public disclosure of personal claim information, including portions of their social security numbers, opening the door to identity theft and possible discrimination.

The facts about the FACT Act are clear: Using the guise of “transparency” as their battle call, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and its corporate cronies have schemed to keep justice from asbestos victims, heaping harm on injured patients and doing nothing to improve the lives of those facing an asbestos death sentence through no fault of their own. Congress should act to protect these victims instead of doing the bidding of the asbestos industry.

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