Legislation aims to bring fairness and accountability when it comes to abestos claims

Linda Reinstein’s column (“Pa. industry has a plan for asbestos victims – and it’s not good,” Jan. 10 PennLive) regarding asbestos trusts is misleading in its characterization of the “Fairness in Claims and Transparency (FaCT) Act.” This legislation aims to bring fairness and accountability to our civil justice system, while also allowing for appropriate compensation to legitimate victims of asbestos exposure.

When health problems linked to asbestos exposure became known, many of the companies that once manufactured the material were bankrupted. Multi-billion-dollar trusts were created through federal bankruptcy proceedings to compensate victims that had been exposed to asbestos.

Unfortunately, plaintiff attorneys have turned to the civil court system to go after companies that might have only used or sold products containing asbestos. This “double dipping” penalizes solvent companies that may have had little, if anything, to do with a victims’ asbestos exposure, threatening their ability to stay in business.

FaCT reverses this unfair process by instituting the principles of the “Fair Share Act” over asbestos claims.

This will ensure open communication between the administrative trust process and the court system, and will make sure a judge and jury have full knowledge of the plaintiff’s degree of asbestos exposure and trust money they were already awarded before the case is heard in court.

If warranted, additional compensation can then be awarded and defendant companies will only be assessed liability based on their degree of fault.

Fraudulent asbestos claims threaten jobs and business growth. This reasonable measure will address abuse of the system and bring much needed transparency to Pennsylvania’s legal environment.

GENE BARR, president and CEO, Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry, Harrisburg.

Author: Gene BarrPublication: PennLivehttp://www.pennlive.com/opinion/2016/01/asbestos.html