Boston mesothelioma attorneys have been closely following the developments regarding asbestos trust funds and government attempts to increase transparency and reduce fraud.
Those who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston have probably heard of these trusts. If not, it’s time to educate yourself.
Back in the late 1970s, Congress recognized the extreme dangers associated with asbestos exposure, which lead to a myriad of lung diseases, including the rare and deadly mesothelioma cancer, which attacks the lining of internal organs. Legislators realized that even after the dangers of asbestos exposure became widely known, many companies continued to use this fibrous, organic compound in everything from insulation to car parts. Even though inhalation of the fibers was known to make people seriously ill, they continued to use it because it was cheaper. Greed, plain and simple.
So what Congress did was propose legislation that would create a trust fund, which companies found to be in violation of this would contribute to and through which people with legitimate claims could be compensated. They hoped that this would cut down on the intensive litigation that was expected in the coming years.
Even companies that had to declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy as a result of asbestos litigation had to contribute at least 50 percent of their reorganized equity into a trust fund, so that mesothelioma patients wouldn’t be left in a lurch.
Of course, not all companies that were responsible were paying into it as much as they should (in fact, some are underfunded by millions of dollars) and fraud has been an ongoing problem.
Specifically, the fraud involves individuals who double-dip. That is, they receive compensation for their illness, which they say was caused by one company, and then go back to seek compensation from another, which they say also caused their illness.
Now, our Boston mesothelioma lawyers know that it is entirely possible that more than one company may be responsible for a patient’s mesothelioma diagnosis. Therefore, they may be legitimately entitled to compensation from multiple trust funds.
However, because these trust funds (and there are about 60 of them) are underfunded in the first place, that leaves less available compensation for future mesothelioma patients and their survivors.
That’s why individual lawsuits are often the way to go. The chances that you’ll get a trust fund pay out are decreasing, particularly with the stricter controls being proposed, and even if you do receive compensation, it may not be nearly on the level you deserve.
So what is being proposed by lawmakers is the