Asbestos-Related Trust Funds and the Proposed FACT Act
Money does not grow on trees, nor does it appear out of thin air. For victims of asbestos exposure, it is very costly to undergo treatment. Each claim is different, but at the very least, there are medical bills that need to be paid. While the asbestos trust funds (worth an estimated $30 billion) are designed to compensate the victims, the FACT Act would require more paperwork and could actually end up delaying the compensation process.
As it stands, getting compensation is anything but instantaneous. The asbestos-related trust funds are not actually controlled by the companies that went bankrupt. Rather, the funds are in the hands of a designated “trustee” who makes decisions as to what the standards are and what the compensation will be. For instance, the claimant will have to show evidence of the asbestos related injury, but depending on the trustee for the company, the claimant might have to satisfy certain medical criteria. When it comes to the FACT Act, the information that a claimant gives is subject to public review.
Facts and Figures of the FACT Act
Earlier this month, the Senate Judiciary Committee began considering the Furthering Asbestos Claims Transparency Act (FACT). In essence, HR 1927 Section 3 opens doors for those seeking compensation through asbestos trust funds to have their private information on public display.
“(8) A trust described in paragraph (2) shall, subject to section 107—
“(A) file with the bankruptcy court, not later than 60 days after the end of every quarter, a report that shall be made available on the court’s public docket and with respect to such quarter—”
“(i) describes each demand the trust received from, including the name and exposure history of, a claimant and the basis for any payment from the trust made to such claimant.”
What Could the FACT Act Mean for Victims?
Veterans are particularly susceptible to privacy concerns related to asbestos trusts, as they account for about 30% of all mesothelioma diagnoses due to exposure to asbestos containing materials.
Organizations that oppose the FACT Act, such as the Vietnam Veterans of America, National Defense Council, and the Air Force Sergeants Association note that the FACT Act needlessly pries into the private information of mesothelioma victims. The FACT Act exposes the victims to possible identity theft, slows the process, and places an undue burden on the victims to publicly expose what state laws protect as private. The FACT Act raises the possibility that companies could get out of compensating those who are sick and dying (due to asbestos exposure) because of how long it might take to get the compensation and get through the paperwork.
Corporate defendants exaggerate accounts of plaintiff fraud in an effort to limit liability. They suggest that it is intended to decrease the possibility that multiple companies will end up paying the same claims. They argue that the FACT Act is designed so that there are no secrets as to what is being claimed, how much, and by whom. This argument, however, fails to acknowledge that the disclosure of this sensitive information would only lead to the re-victimization of mesothelioma victims by allowing their personal information to be released to the public.
Get the Help You Need from Throneberry Law Group
Michael Throneberry is a compassionate, mesothelioma attorney who will help you understand the process. Mr. Throneberry has personal experience with mesothelioma claims and can discuss your possible trust claim. Contact 888-506-1131 today for a free consultation.