WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) -- The Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act (FACT Act), set for a vote Wednesday in the U.S. House of Representatives, "was written for the asbestos industry, not us," said Linda Reinstein, president, CEO and co-founder of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization during a telephone press conference.
Reinstein, whose husband died of mesothelioma in the mid-2000s, also noted that asbestos is still legal in the United States despite the general belief that it has been banned.
Under the new law, asbestos personal injury settlement trusts would be authorized by federal bankruptcy law to disclose information on their claims and respond to information requests from parties to asbestos litigation. It would also require the trusts to file public reports providing information with each claim for compensation.
Critics of the proposed legislation fear personal information, such as the last four numbers of a claimant's social security number, will be revealed to parties of asbestos litigation. Reinstein also argues it will create additional hurdles for asbestos victims, leading to "delayed or denied compensation."
Supporters of the FACT Act include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform, which owns Legal Newsline.
Jason Johns, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Asbestos Victims Network and a combat-wounded veteran, called the FACT Act "an affront to our service." Because 30 percent of mesothelioma victims are veterans, the legislation would impact them disproportionately. Moreover, the bill shifts the burden of proof to plaintiffs about why they should not have to go through their state's personal injury trust before seeking reparations on the federal level.
U. S. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) sponsored the FACT Act, also known as House Resolution 982. The House Judiciary Committee passed the legislation in May.