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Businesses lobbying for protection from asbestos-injury suits

The widow of former Minnesota Representative, Bruce Vento, opposes a bill imposing disclosure requirements concerning trusts set up to pay individuals sickened by exposure to asbestos.  Bruce Vento died from cancer caused by asbestos-exposure back in 2000.

Congress nevertheless passed H.R. 982.  Honeywell International Inc. and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce both lobbied heavily to have this measure passed.  Supporters of the measure feel that it is necessary to prevent victims of asbestos exposure from collecting from a trust and also file a lawsuit against an asbestos-manufacturer.  They claim that there has been double-dipping going on.  This bill would require trusts set up to handle asbestos lawsuits to file quarterly reports concerning details of payments.

Opponents of such a measure show an understandable concern that this bill will allow companies to delay payments to individuals suffering from asbestos-related illnesses like mesothelioma.

Honeywell has been said to have paid out in a two-year period $503 million in asbestos-related claims. Asbestos is used in construction type materials like roofing shingles and building insulation. It ultimately can result in mesothelioma, a cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs, other cancers, and asbestosis, a breathing disorder that scars the lung tissue.

We will have to wait and see what becomes of the Congressional bill.  However, in light of measures such as this and possibly others passed by Congress, individuals sickened by exposure to asbestos and their families will require the services of experienced attorneys to make certain that any compensation received meets their needs. Knowing of lobbying efforts of large companies like Honeywell, it is apparent that companies very much wish to avoid accountability for their role in exposing individuals to such dangerous products.

Source: Claims Journal, "Asbestos Bill Pushed by Honeywell Advances Passage in House," Jonathan D. Salant, Nov. 14, 2013

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