Biden helped thwart asbestos lawsuit overhaul

Chris Rizo Aug. 27, 2008, 5:00pm

Joe Biden (D)

Beau Biden (D)

WASHINGTON - U.S. Sen. Joe Biden helped defeat legislation aimed at reducing the number of asbestos lawsuits as his son was filing asbestos lawsuits in Delaware, it was reported Wednesday.

USA Today reported that Biden, a member of the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee and the Democratic vice presidential nominee, actively opposed a bill that would have replaced thousands of lawsuits with a trust fund for asbestos victims.

In his fight, the Delaware Democrat proposed a series of amendments to the bill in 2003 and 2005 that were "poison pills," designed to kill the bill, Lawrence Fineran, a lobbyist who supported the measure, told the newspaper.

The bill's chief sponsors, Sens. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., said the measure would end abusive litigation but critics, including Biden, said it would leave victims without compensation.

The bill was defeated in 2006 amid Democratic opposition.

While the bill was being considered on Capitol Hill, Biden's son Beau was a partner in a Wilmington law firm that was filing asbestos
lawsuits on behalf of mesothelioma victims, USA Today reported.

Beau Biden is currently the Democratic attorney general of Delaware, and considered to be a possible candidate for U.S. Senate if Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama is elected in November.

Seantor Biden spokesman David Wade said the senator "consistently opposed" the bill because it was unfair.

"He thought it was dead wrong that if the trust fund ran out of money for the victims, they couldn't even get their rights back," Wade was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

From Legal Newsline: Reach reporter Chris Rizo at

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