There has been a lot of talk recently about a bill known as the Further Asbestos Claims Transparency Act or “FACT.” While the GOP sponsors of the FACT bill argue that it will help get rid of false claims by veterans who say they were exposed to asbestos while in service to our nation, Democrats who are opposed to this proposed piece of asbestos legislation say it is essentially an unfair giveaway to the large corporations who are trying to avoid having to pay damages related to asbestos exposure.
In addition to Senator Dick Durbin and other Democrats in Congress, nearly 20 different veterans’ rights groups are voicing their collective opposition to the FACT bill. According to a recent news feature from Stars and Stripes, this includes organizations such as AMVETS, the Military Officers Association of America, the Vietnam Veterans of America, and various other veterans groups.
One of the more troubling aspect of this bill, as viewed by these veterans organizations, is that the bill would require the names of all asbestos victims to be made public, and it is estimated that nearly a third of asbestos victims are veterans of the United States military. All of these groups are drafting a single open letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
In their opposition letter, the veterans groups called FACT a cynical ploy designed to allow the companies that became rich from asbestos to avoid providing fair compensation to their many victims who suffered greatly and died as result of these companies’ desire to make money. It is now well known that these companies were fully aware of the dangerous and deadly nature of asbestos over a hundred years before the general public. Researchers have learned that over two thousand years ago, people first suspected asbestos was making people sick, even though they had no way of knowing what cancer truly is. While many people associate asbestos as being a product of the 1800s and most of the 1900s, it is actually a naturally occurring substance that has been used by humans for thousands of years.
While it might seem that keeping the names of victims confidential has only to do with privacy rights, there is far more at stake than that. The Government Accounting Office (GAO) was asked to look into this issue years ago, and it determined that having access to the names of all plaintiff and settlements would give the defense attorneys a serious legal advantage, and they could use this information to purposely delay the process until the plaintiffs were no longer alive.
While the families of the victims could always step in the place of the decedent in a mesothelioma lawsuit in Boston, for example, it would make the case more complicated, and this could give an advantage to the asbestos producers, according the veterans’ groups, as a delay might make people more likely to accept an unfair settlement.
It is not only important for victims and their families to express their opposition to this act, but to also speak with an asbestos injury attorney who will fight for your rights to full and appropriate financial compensation.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.
Veterans groups oppose asbestos bill in Senate, February 3, 2016, Stars and Stripes, By Travis J Tritten
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Mesothelioma Lawsuits for Shipyard Workers, July 30, 2014, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyers Blog