Today's News

Asbestos compensation legislation fails in Senate

May 7, 2004
/ Print / Reprints /
/ Text Size+
The U.S. Senate defeated a bill in late April that would have set up a special asbestos court to hear all claims for damages by injured workers and others against companies that manufacture and use asbestos-containing material or have done so in the past. The vote, which was on a procedural motion that requires 60 votes to pass, was 50 in favor and 47 against. All Senate Republicans voted for the bill; only one Senate Democrat, Zell Miller of Georgia, voted for it.

The bill was the tenth legislative proposal to limit the liability of asbestos companies to be defeated sine 1977.

The Democrats opposed the bill on several grounds:

  • The court would have paid all claims out of a trust fund established by asbestos-using companies and their insurance companies, but the total amount to be paid into the fund is less than the anticipated value of the claims of injured workers.

  • The court would pay claims according to a schedule set by law that calls for payments that are substantially less than those that injured workers now win in court.

  • Many injured workers and others who are now eligible for damages would be ineligible under the asbestos court’s rules.

  • Many large corporations with substantial liability for asbestos damages would have those liabilities cancelled and pay much less into the trust fund than the damages they have already pledged to pay.

  • Without any mechanism to ensure that the court’s proceedings would be simple and fair, injured workers would likely be at a disadvantage because they would have no access to legal representation.

    Election-year politics was a big influence on the Republican’s decision to force a vote that they were certain to lose. "The Republicans want to be able to go to the voters and accuse us of obstructionism, even though they know their proposal is grossly unfair to victims of asbestos exposure," said one Democratic congressional staffer who asked not to be named.

    After the Senate bill failed, some proponents of a legislative program to take asbestos liability damage suits out of the normal court system indicated that they would try again, with a proposal that might win more support. An informal group of businesses, insurers and labor organizations has begun to meet to attempt to reach agreement on a new measure to propose to Congress.

  • Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to ISHN.

    You must login or register in order to post a comment.


    Facebook logo Twitter YouTubeLinkedIn Google + icon



    Image Galleries

    ASSE Safety 2014 Review

    A gallery of photos from the sprawling Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, where ASSE’s annual professional development conference was held June 8-11. All photos courtesy of the American Society of Safety Engineers.

    9/30/14 2:00 pm EST

    Leveraging Sustainability Initiatives to Benefit Your Community and Increase Compliance

    This webinar will review how General Motors' Sustainability initiatives are being leveraged to improve the community and the environment, create efficient energy programs, improve sustainability tracking, impact on processes and overall reporting and improve overall social, environmental and corporate sustainability.

    ISHN Magazine


    2014 September

    ISHN'S September issue features a series of essay on thought leadership. Get expert advice on self-motivation, compliance and more!

    Table Of Contents Subscribe


    M:\General Shared\__AEC Store Katie Z\AEC Store\Images\ISHN\safetyfourth.jpg
    Safety Engineering, 4th Edition

    A practical, solutions-driven reference, Safety Engineering, 4th edition, has been completely revised and updated to reflect many of today’s issues in safety.

    More Products

    For Distributors Only - SEPTEMBER 2014

    ISHN FDO SEPTEMBER 2014For Distributors Only is ISHN's niche brand standard-sized magazine supplement aimed at an audience of 2,000 U.S. distributors that sell safety products. Circulation only goes to distributors. CHECK OUT THE SEPTEMBER 2014 ISSUE OF FDO HERE

    ishn infographics

    2012 US workplace deathsCheck out ISHN's new Infographic page! Learn more about worker safety through these interactive images. CLICK HERE to view the page.