Hatch Bill Fails to Protect Asbestos Victims
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- July 7, 2003 -- As previously reported, Orrin Hatch's asbestos bill, S.B. 1125, will be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee this week. It has come to our attention that there is some misunderstanding about the bill's effects. Rather than providing a complete, adequate "fund" for asbestos victims, S.B. 1125 is actually a payout schedule that at the minimum, entails a built-in one to two year delay. Some have calculated this delay to be as much as five years. The bill also:
- Provides no effective way to enforce the payment schedule and make sure that all companies pay what they should. For example, there is no mechanism to enforce the obligations of various London reinsurers who are supposed to pay 20-30 billion into the fund, but are already disputing their allotted share.
- Voids existing settlements and promised damage awards from asbestos bankruptcy trusts.
We again want to emphasize that S.B. 1125 greatly benefits asbestos product manufacturers yet shortchanges those with asbestos-related diseases. While denying asbestos victims the right to a trial by jury, it provides a payment schedule that does not adequately cover their medical expenses, financial losses, and suffering. It also establishes rigid medical requirements that would deny compensation for many who have been seriously injured by asbestosis and asbestos-caused pleural scarring.
Make Your Opinion Known
We urge you to call members of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee and your Senators to ask them to vote "No" on this bill. Since a vote could come as early as July 10, it is important that you do this immediately.
You can find the full text of S.B. 1125 on the Thomas Legislative site. (Scroll to Bill Number, and search on S.B. 1125).