An asbestos victims’ group says a bill passed recently by the U.S. House of Representatives would make it more difficult for those harmed by asbestos to get compensation.
The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) calls H.R. 982—The Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2013, a “special interest bill” that puts the interests of the asbestos industry over the constituents the lawmakers should be serving.
“The FACT Act will make it even more difficult for asbestos victims to receive justice in court and hold asbestos corporations responsible for the harm their products have caused,” said Linda Reinstein, a mesothelioma widow and co-founder of ADAO. “Adding insult to injury, it would also violate asbestos victims’ privacy by releasing sensitive information on a public website.”
Although asbestos is classified as a human carcinogen and has been strongly linked to mesothelioma, its use is still legal in the U.S. Asbestos-related diseases claim an estimated 10,000+ lives each year in this country.
Warnings were delayed
A report published in the American Journal of Public Health (1991 Jun;81(6):791-800) found that the asbestos industry, together with many of its insurers, “systematically developed and then suppressed information on the carcinogenicity of asbestos. The development of warnings for those exposed to the asbestos was delayed. As a result, millions of workers were exposed to the carcinogen and hundreds of thousands died.” The report, by DE Lilienfeld, is entitled; The silence: the asbestos industry and early occupational cancer research--a case study.
ADAO says the FACT Act would:
- List the last four digits of asbestos victims’ Social Security numbers on a public website
- Create new barriers and delays for victims receiving compensation and justice
- Threaten the security of asbestos victims by revealing financial information
- Jeopardize asbestos victims and families for possible blacklisting and discrimination
- Publicly list “the name and exposure history of, a claimant and the basis for any payment from the trust made to such claimant”
A handout to corporations that "stole lives"
Reinstein says H.R. 982 is “nothing more than yet another ploy for the asbestos industry to negate responsibility, deny liability, and delay compensation. Instead of helping asbestos victims and their families, Congress is considering granting a handout to the very same corporations that put their health at risk and stole their lives.”
She added: “Sick and dying patients suffering from mesothelioma and other asbestos-caused diseases and their family don't have the time and money to endure one more bureaucratic hurdle that delays compensation, denies justice and puts asbestos warriors privacy at risk. This is just what H.R. 982 would do.”
ADAO was founded in 2004 to represent the rights of asbestos victims, and raise public awareness about the dangers of asbestos exposure. www.asbestosdiseaseawareness.org.