Posted on January 8, 2016
Bill Will Delay Justice and Compensation, Violate Privacy for Asbestos Victims and Families
The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) is deeply troubled and saddened by today’s passage of the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2015 (H.R. 1927) which unfortunately passed with a closer than expected 211-188 vote. Tensions were high at the Capital today as FACT Act sponsor U.S. Rep. Blake Farenthold [R-TX-27] was booed while speaking on the floor by a large and vocal opposition of House Democrats. As readers may be aware late last year H.R.526 – Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2015 was merged with Rep. Bob Goodlatte‘s [R-VA-6] H.R.1927 – Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act of 2015 in order to have a better chance of passing.
Standing side by side, it is clear, asbestos victims are outraged.
Since ADAO was founded in 2004, more than 150,000 Americans have been killed by asbestos diseases. Tragically, there will be an untold number of lives lost to this killer as long as Congress continues to put corporate interests ahead of the health and safety of their constituents.
Congress should be focusing on legislation to stop asbestos imports and ensure the EPA can expeditiously ban asbestos, not on providing handouts to the murderous asbestos industry. The dangers of asbestos have been known since the early 1900s, but asbestos is still legal and lethal in the U.S., causing devastating illnesses and death for those exposed.
Corporations that exposed Americans to a known carcinogen should be held accountable. It is reprehensible that the House has passed legislation that will let asbestos corporations off the hook, create significant privacy risks for victims, and delay compensation and justice.
Asbestos claims more than 15,000 American lives annually and accounts for the majority of global deaths related to occupational carcinogens (194,000) according to the recently released The Global Burden of Disease, Injuries, and Risk Factor Study of 2013 (GBD 2013) from the prestigious Lancet medical journal.
On a brighter note, ADAO was mentioned in the Daily Whip with our colleagues and allies: Military Order of the Purple Heart, the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, the Environmental Working Group, Public Citizen, and the Alliance for Justice. This is just another strong sign that the asbestos and mesothelioma voices are being heard!
The voting record tells the REAL story. Every Democrat in the House voted no and so did 16 Republicans.
Sue Vento, widow of the late Congressman Bruce Vento commented, “Many thanks to all of the Democratic members of the House and the 16 Republican members who heard the voices of patients and families and voted against this unjust legislation. Today’s bipartisan opposition positions us to stop the bill in the Senate.” Additionally, the recently passed bill faces staunch opposition from President Obama who has threatened the use of a presidential veto if the bill makes it to his desk.
Facts about the so-called FACT Act:
- Lists the last four digits of asbestos victims’ Social Security numbers on a public website
- Creates new barriers and delays for victims receiving compensation and justice
- Threatens the security of asbestos victims by revealing financial information
- Jeopardizes asbestos victims and families for possible blacklisting and discrimination
- Publicly lists “the name and exposure history of a claimant and the basis for any payment from the trust made to such claimant”
Previous legislative attempts to silence victims and diminish their power include:
- H.R. 4369 (112th): Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2012
Sponsor: Rep. Ben Quayle [R-AZ-3, 2011-2012]
- H.R. 982 (113th): Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2013
Sponsor: Rep. Blake Farenthold [R-TX-27]