The bad news is the Act passed the U.S. House of Representatives, 211-188, on Jan. 8.
The good news is that President Obama is expected to veto the bill should it pass the Senate and get to his desk.
What It Is
The FACT Act, sponsored by republican Congressman Blake Farenthold of Texas, is basically designed to protect asbestos manufacturers from claims made by asbestos exposure victims as well as their families. The Act erects incredibly cumbersome barriers to those considering legal action, such as requiring patients and families to allow their personal information to be viewable on a public website. This information would include the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, names, addresses and the medical diagnosis of the patient, as well as any financial compensation they may have received by filing a lawsuit.
But that’s not all. The Act also puts a serious burden on people trying to file asbestos lawsuits, forcing plaintiffs to fill out mountains of paperwork in order to respond to potentially endless requests for information by defendants. Act proponents hope that, if passed, the bill would force plaintiffs into either settling for pennies on the dollar or simply dropping their cases completely.
There Is Hope, However
Thankfully, the Obama Administration is strongly opposed to the FACT Act, stating that it would needlessly threaten plaintiffs’ privacy, seriously constrain access to the courts, and also impair the enforcement of many current federal laws. According to a statement released by the Office of Management and Budget on Jan. 6, senior advisors would strongly recommend the President veto the bill.
It was unclear as of this writing when the Senate would vote. As a result, there is still time to make your voice heard and tell your U.S. Senator you are opposed to this thinly veiled effort to protect the asbestos manufacturers that have been responsible for thousands and thousands of deaths. If you have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease or lost a loved one due to this type of illness, please click here to contact Baron & Budd online or call us at 855-280-7664.