So-Called “Transparency Act” Not Transparent

Recently, the U.S. House Judiciary Committee reintroduced the deceptively named “Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2013.” The only thing transparent about this bill is that it’s part of another anti-accountability campaign intended to grant further protection to those who caused asbestos exposure and widespread suffering. Why should these corporations be held to a lower legal standard than their victims?

The objective of the bill is to delay, unnecessarily, the legal processes that deliver justice to asbestos victims. The industry is trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the public. The plain truth is that this industry will unfairly hide behind FACT and wait for victims to die of asbestos-related diseases before they can receive justice. For more than eight decades, the dangers of asbestos exposure have been clear. Despite the known hazards of asbestos, the industry shielded the facts and continued to put workers and their families in harm’s way by exposing them to the toxic substance. The industry’s success is evident, as asbestos-related diseases kill approximately 10,000 Americans each year.

In its simplicity, the bill does nothing to ban the use of asbestos: Instead, it triggers more barriers to expedited asbestos case processing for victims. For instance, FACT would call for private asbestos bankruptcy trusts to release exhaustive individual information about asbestos victims. This motion alone would delay asbestos cases because it would enable asbestos defendants to overwhelm the trusts with information requests. It would take money put aside for victims of asbestos and use it to pay for teams of personnel to meet these reporting requirements.

All these measures would be taken because there is a baseless allegation of fraud. The asbestos industry’s own studies acknowledge there is no such widespread fraud. Even without this legislation, corporations can acquire all pertinent information to defend themselves against fraud.

Congress’ priority is to protect Americans, not those companies that knowingly exposed workers, families, and consumers to asbestos. With Congress set to vote on the Asbestos Claim Transparency Act, we urge the public to contact its congressmen and congresswomen to oppose the bill. If you would like to join the cause and participate in the petition, please visit //ban.