Senate Judiciary Committee returns to Mark-Up on May 11th: Proposed asbestos trust fund legislation will further penalize victims of asbestos-caused diseases
Sign the S.852 opposition (FAIR) petition today at http://www.gopetition.com/online/6393.html
As debate continues in Congress, ADAO is presenting its views to key legislators on behalf of victims, based on core principles of fairness to victims and their families. The sponsors of bills in the House and Senate are determined to achieve rapid passage of legislation, so it is urgent for ADAO and its constituents to keep our message in front of legislators.
ADAO has already helped to defeat two previous versions of this bill, S.1125 and S.2290, and to pass S. Res. 43 establishing National Asbestos Awareness Day. We are calling now on concerned citizens to sign the ADAO S.852 opposition petition as we continue to protect the rights of asbestos disease victims to fair and speedy compensation and to support implementation of strong national programs of research, prevention, education, and outreach. All petition signers will have their letter faxed to their U.S. Senator.
In order to be effective in Washington, we need 20 opposition letters from each state by Tuesday, May 11th. Paul Zygielbaum, ADAO Legislative Director, is coordinating our grassroots efforts and can answer your questions at Paul@AsbestosDiseaseAwareness.org
The US House of Representatives has joined the US Senate in considering legislation affecting asbestos litigation. On April 28, Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT) introduced H.R. 1360, a bill based on creating a set of medical criteria to allow only people who have been medically impaired by asbestos to bring lawsuits against companies that caused their asbestos exposure. This bill would also remove the statute of limitation on lawsuits that has prompted thousands of lawsuits by people who have been exposed but show no symptoms of medical impairment.
This is a significantly different approach from that taken by sponsors of the Senate bill introduced earlier, S.852, the so-called "FAIR Act." The Senate bill would stop all lawsuits, diverting victims into a privately financed, federally managed trust fund. ADAO and other victims' groups oppose S.852 in its present form, as being fundamentally unfair to victims. The Senate Judiciary Committee considered the bill in a mark-up session on April 28, voting on 18 of 82 proposed amendments to the bill. Senator Kennedy's amendment to reinstate Level VII lung cancer patients for coverage by the trust fund was defeated by 12 - 5.
Observers~R opinions vary widely on both the prospects for passage of these bills and their concerns as to how these bills will affect victims. The Senate bill has drawn criticism from all quarters -- manufacturers, insurers, labor, trial attorneys and victims' groups -- but these groups object for many reasons, some of them diametrically opposed. These positions are reflected in concerns expressed by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. For example, some members have argued that S.852's medical criteria are overly harsh, unduly limiting or eliminating compensation to certain victims, while other members argue for even tighter criteria.
Many insurance companies have stated a preference for the House approach. There is strong disagreement about the House bill may be preferable to the Senate version, but they also express concern about the medical criteria proposed in the House bill. If both bills are passed, their dramatically different approach to the litigation issue will made it difficult for lawmakers to reconcile the two, as must occur before a final measure can be submitted to the President.
The legislative battle has reached a critical stage. If we are to achieve a just and constructive resolution to the concerns of asbestos disease victims, now and in the future, we must act together now. A focused campaign of letters and petitions to your senators, and especially to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, can help us reach this goal. You have the power to help!