After Narrowly Passing the House Six Months Ago, FACT Act Introduced to Senate

On May 12, Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona introduced the Senate’s version of the Furthering Asbestos Claims Transparency Act, colloquially referred to as the FACT Act, of 2014. The House’s version of the bill was passed on November 13, 2013.

The bill’s aim is to prevent fraudulent asbestos claims by requiring asbestos bankruptcy trusts to release quarterly reports that include the victims’ names, exposure histories, and payment details for the sake of transparency. The trusts were set up to ensure asbestos exposure victims would be compensated, even after the responsible company declared bankruptcy.

Many Democrats have maintained that such a law could lead to employment discrimination, as some employers may avoid hiring individuals with a history of asbestos claims in order to avoid a similar situation. During House arguments over the bill, Democrat Nancy Pelosi of California argued that there is no evidence proving “systematic fraud.” She also referred to the bill as “mean-spirited,” echoing the opinion of many Democrats.

Republicans argue that the law is necessary to minimize the corruption not of asbestos claimants but of greedy attorneys.

“Congress must act now to increase transparency,” Flake said in a press release. “The lack of transparency and oversight of these trusts have resulted in a system where claimants can file inconsistent claims among the numerous trusts or against trusts and solvent companies in the tort system. This lack of transparency threatens the ability of future claimants to receive full compensation for their injuries.”

Asbestos exposure is responsible for numerous respiratory health problems, including the fatal mesothelioma. Although asbestos was banned in the 1970s, approximately 3,000 mesothelioma diagnoses are made each year because of the disease’s lengthy latency period.

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