Trusts Outlined in Hatch Bill is a Boon for Asbestos Companies
WASHINGTON, DC-May 29, 2003-Sen. Orrin Hatch has introduced S.B. 1125, a bill that would create a trust fund for asbestos victims and establish set pay-out schedules based on the different types of asbestos diseases. The fund would be financed by insurance companies, asbestos companies that have been sued by asbestos victims, and existing asbestos trusts.
Many say that S.B. 1125, the so-called "Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act of 2003" is anything but fair. "The legislation presented by Senator Orrin Hatch is a major step backward," AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney said. "The Hatch bill is merely a vehicle to relieve liability while significantly shortchanging the asbestos victims of the fair compensation they are due" (New York Times, May 22, 2003). Major problems with this legislation include:
- denies asbestos victims the right to a trial by jury, even cutting off cases already filed in court;
- provides a payment schedule ranging from a maximum of $40,000 for early-stage asbestosis patients to a maximum of $750,000 for mesotheliomapatients, which does not adequately cover medical expenses, financial loss, and suffering;
- establishes rigid medical diagnostic criteria that precludes compensation for many who have been seriously injured by asbestosis and asbestos-causedpleural scarring (see Dr. Albert Miller's letter about asbestos disease standards);
- creates an occupational asbestos exposure requirement that would effectively exclude awards for those who developed asbestos diseases through secondary exposure (for example, handling the asbestos-contaminated work clothes of a working spouse);
- limits the life of the trust fund to 25 years;
- fails to address the problem of inadequate trust funding.
Contact Your Legislators About Harmful Asbestos Bills
We urge you to call or write your House Representatives and Senators to express your views asbestos company bailouts. We think bills like S.B. 1125provide very little for asbestos victims and are not much more than a bailout for asbestos manufacturers and their insurance companies. We strongly oppose these bills.