The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, an independent organization providing education and advocacy for the elimination of asbestos-related diseases including mesothelioma, is sounding the alarm about the proposed federal Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act, or FACT Act, which has been before Congress since 2012 but is still in active consideration. To quote that organization, “Don’t be fooled, the FACT Act wasn’t written for asbestos victims.”
The bill would “require the public disclosure by [asbestos trusts set up to compensate victims] of quarterly reports that contain detailed information regarding the receipt and disposition of claims for injuries based on exposure to asbestos.” That detailed, public exposure would include “the name and exposure history of, a claimant and the basis for any payment from the trust,” and would exclude only confidential medical records and full Social Security numbers.
In other words, the FACT Act means that if you receive payment from an asbestos trust for mesothelioma or another asbestos-related illness, all of your personal information, your job and health history, and how much you received would be public record.
This may sound familiar. In fact, the controversial corporate special interest group the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, sponsored the federal bill even as it works to impose similar legislation on a state-by-state basis through a model bill called the Successor Asbestos-Related Liability Fairness Act.
Should you be afraid of all the public disclosures that would be required by the federal FACT Act? While it doesn’t give asbestos-producing companies immunity from any further lawsuits — nor does contain the draconian criminal penalties for non-complying plaintiffs — that are in the state model bill, numerous asbestos-victim advocacy groups have shown that the real impact of these bills is to make it substantially for difficult for sick and dying people to file asbestos and mesothelioma lawsuits.
Even now, asbestos-related illness claims as many as 30,000 American lives every year. As the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization’s president says, “For each life lost from an asbestos-caused disease, a shattered family is left behind.”
- Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, “Don’t be Fooled, the FACT Act (Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency) Wasn’t Written for Asbestos Victims,” Aug. 14, 2013
- asbestoshub.com, “NC Senate Bill 429 / House Bill 415: Asbestos Lawsuit Immunity Bills Which Would Benefit ALEC Member Crown Cork & Seal And Possibly Other Companies With Asbestos Liability,” April 3, 2013
- GovTrack, “H.R. 982: Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2013,” Text as of Mar 06, 2013