40 years of asbestos lawsuits have bankrupted almost 100 companies, costing tens of thousands of jobs.
It’s the longest running mass tort in history.
Former Washington State attorney general Rob McKenna says Congress created trust funds to help asbestos victims:
“Bankruptcy trust funds were set up to create a smoother, and frankly less burdensome, process for those who became sick from asbestos and deserved to be compensated from the companies that went into bankruptcy under a special provision of the federal code,” said McKenna.
The trusts once had $30 billion dollars, but that is fast dwindling. The recent bankruptcy proceedings of Garlock Sealing Technologies, LLC, show why.
For example, the video above shows two claims that were filed with separate trusts but for the same person. The first says the victim was exposed to asbestos at an Illinois power plant. The second alleges exposure at a steelworks – in Alabama, during the same time.
The Wall Street Journal even documented claim filings for individuals who don’t exist.
These schemes make millions for some lawyers, but drain the money pool for true victims.
The Furthering Asbestos Claims Transparency Act – or FACT Act – would deter fraud by making public some trust claims data.
Plaintiffs’ lawyers say this harms victims’ privacy, a charge McKenna denies.
“There are no privacy risks from provisions of the FACT Act and the information that it will require be made available to the bankruptcy trust judges and to the parties in those bankruptcy cases,” he said. “For example, the proposed bill explicitly protects confidential medical information, prohibits full social security numbers from being released and so forth.”
That’s less information than even lawsuits publicly disclose, says McKenna.
Until Congress acts, unscrupulous lawyers will continue to game the system at the expense of real victims.
Watch the full video above.