The United States House of Representatives has recently passed a tort reform bill that included another bill specifically designed to make it harder for victims of mesothelioma to sue the companies that negligently or intentionally exposed them to deadly asbestos fibers. This bill is called the Fair Asbestos Claims Transparency (FACT) Act. One of the major provisions would require the cases to go through a review to make sure all plaintiffs are similarly situated. This change to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCP) is above and beyond the class action requirement already in place.
According to a recent news article from Business Insurance, even if the bill should pass in the United States Senate, and many question whether that will happen, it is likely that President Barack Obama would veto the bill should he have the opportunity.
As for asbestos cases specifically, the proposed bill, if enacted, would require asbestos settlement trust funds to file regular reports with the bankruptcy courts. These are reports that would be available to the public. This would make it more difficult for people to collect a full and appropriate financial recovery for their mesothelioma injury.
The reason trust funds and bankruptcy court come into play is because these defendants made a lot money without caring about the future or their employee’s future health and well being. They were not concerned with what would happen decades later when people started dying from their intentional and negligent actions in exposing them to deadly asbestos fibers. When people did start dying and the general public became aware of the danger of asbestos and its ability to cause victims to develop cancer, many filed mesothelioma lawsuits in Boston and across the country. This caused juries to award what turned about to be billions of dollars in verdicts to the plaintiffs and their surviving family members. This led to the bankruptcy of many of these companies. However, these were not what we would typically call mom and pop operations. There were multinational corporations that went bankrupt and were likely sold to even larger corporations that produce chemicals and run mining or textile operations.
When these companies bought the asbestos firms, they were required to place some of the company’s assets, or assets from the trustee sale in trust, so that there would be money for future victims who had been exposed to asbestos but had not yet developed cancer. The reason there would be so many future victims expected is because of the nature of how asbestos causes cancer and how long it takes. Once asbestos fibers are inhaled, it typically takes between 20 and 50 years for them to develop into malignant mesothelioma. During this period of time, a patient may have no idea he or she is sick. After the fibers have caused malignant mutations in the mesothelium, the patient will typically develop aggressive tumors in his or her lungs, abdomen, or chest cavity. While mesothelioma often occurs in the lungs, it is not technically the same type of cancer caused by smoking, which we typically call lung cancer.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
Class action and asbestos bill faces presidential veto, January 8, 2016, Business Insider, By Mark A. Hoffman
More Blog Entries:
Can Family of Asbestos Workers Sue for Illness?, September 15, 2014, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyers Blog