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Come Saturday Morning: ALEC-Backed “FACT” Act Confuses Harassment with “Transparency”

Good morning everyone! How are you all today? Here’s hoping that some of the rain we’ve been getting in our necks of the woods goes to visit places in West Texas and New Mexico that could really use it.

My topic for today was given to me by Susan Vento, the wife of Bruce Vento, who was the longtime congressman for the Fourth Congressional District of Minnesota, an area comprising Saint Paul and the rest of Ramsey County. Congressman Vento passed away in October of 2000 from pleural mesothelioma, a deadly disease caused by exposure to asbestos during the many blue-collar jobs the congressman had held in his pre-Congress years.

At the time Vento was diagnosed in February of 2000, many asbestos companies pushed Henry Hyde, then the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee, to back a bill that would curb the rights of asbestos victims, such as Rep. Vento, to pursue damages in civil court. The industry-backed “Fairness in Asbestos Compensation Act”, or “FACT”, would have forced the federal government to pre-screen all asbestos claims before the claimants were allowed to file any civil claims against the asbestos manufacturers. The asbestos industry claimed that this was intended to reduce “docket clog”, though what it really was meant to reduce were the payments made to the victims or their next of kin.

“FACT” was never enacted into law, but its main components are still being promoted by the asbestos industry. Just last week, asbestos companies teamed up with their good friends at the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to lobby for a new bill with the same initials — the “Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act.” (Original thinkers, they’re not.)

This zombified new “FACT” is even nastier than the first one. As Susan Vento told me in her email:

On top of mass privacy concerns, this bill would delay and, in some cases, deny justice to people suffering from asbestos-related diseases. The FACT Act marks the beginning of a state-by-state strategy to dismantle the rights of victims.

In the name of so-called “transparency,” the bill places burdensome reporting requirements on victims applying to the bankruptcy trusts. Yet, the companies who knowingly caused the asbestos exposure have no comparable requirements. The legislation is a one-sided and unfair effort designed to harm those who have already been injured. You can find more information on the bill here. This legislation is not an effort to make the legal system more responsive. Instead, it is merely the latest attempt by big companies and individuals like the Koch brothers to avoid responsibility for their heinous wrongdoings.

To find out more about the new Zombie FACT, go here: http://cancervictimsrights.org/legislation/fact-act/

To sign a petition to Congress to stop this new version of FACT, go here: http://cancervictimsrights.org/legislation/fact-act/

You know what to do.

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