House Bill Brings Changes to Asbestos Claim System

On February 7, 2017, the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act cleared the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee. A report by Jessica M. Karmasek from Forbes explains that the bill concerns the compensation system for asbestos injury in the U.S.

Asbestos, per the National Cancer Institute, is a carcinogen linked to various cancers as well as mesothelioma. The Mesothelioma Center also cites that, in response to these reports, about 60 asbestos bankruptcy trusts were established to compensate claimants since the late 1980s. Currently, asbestos trusts hold about $37 billion, and about $18 billion have been paid to claimants since the release of health hazard reports.

The purpose of the bill is to eliminate the potential of false claims so that actual claimants can receive maximum compensation by requiring more transparency in the trusts. In order to ensure this transparency, quarterly reports would be made on claims, while also protecting claimants personal information.

The bill is also meant to limit the “predatory” practices of class action lawsuits and includes additional provisions including; classes have the same type and scope of injury, prohibit judges from approving a class if the lawyer is a relative of an individual within that class, ensure lawyers are only paid after the plaintiffs are paid and disclose any third-party funding to the district court.

House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) said “The FACT Act requires bankruptcy trusts to be transparent like other courts. This will ensure deserving victims receive the maximum relief for their illness and injuries while preserving privacy protections, and weeding out bad actors who would take advantage of the system.”

A version of this bill was introduced in the previous Congress, but did not make it past Committee. This bill will now go to the House at large to be considered

Read more at Forbes

Copyright for image: Photographer, Stock Photo, License Summary.

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