S. 852 Denies Access to the Courts - No Resolve for Those With Asbestos Diseases
WASHINGTON, DC - May 27, 2005 - The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved S. 852, legislation that would create an asbestos trust fund for asbestos victims, but deny them access to the courts. The bill will now go before the full Senate, most likely next month.
S. 852 would set up an Office of Asbestos Disease Compensation to consider asbestos claims and distribute the trust funds. Existing asbestos lawsuits would be dismissed, even if trial dates have already been scheduled. Workers would instead be required to file new claims with the trust. Urgent cases could be returned to court if the fund is not operating within nine months. However, some patients with asbestos-related cancers such as mesothelioma may only have months to live.
The $140 billion asbestos trust fund would not provide adequate compensation for those suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos diseases, according to several labor and consumer groups. It may also run out of money before all claims can be satisfied. Furthermore, the medical standards used to prove the existence of an asbestos disease are unfair and the asbestos exposure requirements for various type of diseases are arbitrary.
S. 852 Faces Opposition in the Senate
Most Democratic Senators oppose S. 852, although Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Sen. Herbert Kohl (D-WI) now support the bill. Insurers, asbestos-affiliated companies, and many Republicans also support S. 852. However, even some members on the Senate Judiciary who voted to send S. 852 to the full Senate believe that the bill is seriously flawed and should be revised. The AFL-CIO and other labor groups continue to oppose S. 852, as do consumer groups.
Urge Your Senators to Vote NO on S. 852
Brayton Purcell has fought long and hard against this ill-conceived bill and others like it that bail out asbestos companies, but harm injured workers and their families. We are very concerned that S. 852 could pass this year. Once again, we ask for your help. Please telephone or send email to your Senators and urge them to vote NO on S. 852. You can find your Senators' names, emails, and telephone numbers on the U.S. Senate web site. For the full text of S. 852, see the Thomas Legislative web site. (Scroll to Bill Number and type in S. 852).