The Wall Street Journal is worried about fraud in asbestos cases. Ah, you may think, have billion dollar corporations and insurance companies conspired to deceive thousands of victims of asbestos, creating fake bankruptcies and transferring assets throughout dozens of shell corporations and sham “sale” transactions?
Or maybe they are worried about the thousands of workers who die every year from mesothelioma caused by those corporations, many of whom knew decades before they were forced by law to disclose the dangers of exposure to asbestos dust and fibers to their workers and customers?
Sadly, no. The WSJ is worried that claimants, many of whom are dying of lung cancer or mesothelioma, are filing fraudulent claims. Their “proof” is apparently demonstrated by the fact that a Republican-dominated House of Representatives has passed a bill, ironically entitled, The Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (Fact) Act.
The act would make disclosure of significant amounts of personal information by the claimants mandatory. The WSJ unctuously notes this is necessary because apparently, the mere existence of the $36 billion asbestos trusts “is an invitation to fraud.”
Are there non-biased sources that detail this rampant fraud? One report only finds an error rate from the trusts of 0.35 percent. Some claimants do file lawsuits against more than one defendant, because more than one defendant may have been responsible for their harm.
The poorly named FACT act main purpose is to force personal disclosures by claimants, while creating no obligations for “transparency” from the asbestos companies. This disclosure is not done to root out the non-existent fraud, but to intimidate claimants and create another roadblock to the courthouse, to deny them any redress for their disease.
Of course, the House knows this one-sided and unreasonable bill stands no chance in the Senate or with the President. It is part of the program of “moving the goal line,” by planting in the minds of anyone who hears of it, the idea that asbestos litigation is riddled with fraud. We suggest they employ a better, more accurate name, perhaps a three-letter word beginning with the letter “L.”
Source: Media Matters, “WSJ Is Convinced Fraudulent Asbestos Claims ‘Abound,’ Despite All Evidence To Contrary,” Meagan Hatcher-Mays, November 13, 2013