It’s Once Again Time to Rise Up and Squash the FACT Act
It’s back. An insidious piece of legislation known as the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act (HR. 526), or FACT Act, is once again making the rounds in Congress.
Sponsored by Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, the FACT Act would require administrators of asbestos bankruptcy trusts to provide quarterly reports disclosing information about people seeking compensation for asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma. Rep. Ben Quayle, R-Ariz., first introduced the bill in 2012 but it was not passed. Farenthold then introduced the FACT Act of 2013. It passed the House but did not make it out of the Senate.
Proponents are hoping the third time will be the charm. They claim the Act would reduce fraud – but the reality is the Act is not only a blatant invasion of privacy, it is part of a cold, calculated strategy on the part of asbestos manufacturers to delay paying patients who have suffered terribly.
Supporters claim the FACT Act will actually help victims, but that could not be farther from the truth. The same asbestos manufacturers that knowingly put people at risk for decades are backing the bill. This lethal material remains legal in the U.S. – if manufacturers are so committed to transparency, why don’t they disclose where asbestos is still being imported and used?
We find the idea that asbestos companies want transparency to be laughable at best. These same manufacturers were anything but transparent when they developed products they knew would kill hard-working men and women. People who worked not only civilian jobs, but also served in the U.S. Navy and in other military branches, were exposed to asbestos fibers on a daily basis. Thousands and thousands of them have died as a result, while others continue to suffer.
The FACT Act would add a level of red tape, placing a ridiculously difficult burden on asbestos bankruptcy trusts. As a result, it would delay compensation for victims even further.
Not only that, it would require trust administrators to gather a great deal of sensitive information, such as a claimant’s work history and asbestos exposure history.
Asbestos manufacturers could request any sort of information, at any time, and for basically any reason. One very likely potential offshoot of the Act would be to dissuade other patients from filing suit for fear the process would be drawn out much too long.
We don’t object to transparency, but that isn’t what this Act is all about. Proponents of this legislation are only concerned with slowing down the claims process, manipulating the language of the bill to make it seem like they are performing a public service when the truth is far different.
Mesothelioma patients have already been through enough. They don’t need this extra burden.