Recent asbestos news has focused on a controversial Congressional bill called the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution (FAIR) Act. The bill was first introduced on the Senate floor in 2005 and it has not yet been enacted into law.
What is the FAIR Act?
The FAIR Act, if enacted into law, will prohibit injured victims from bringing asbestos claims against individual defendants. Injured victims would then be left to file asbestos claims with the Office of Asbestos Disease Compensation. This Office would administer a fund called the Asbestos Injury Claims Resolution Fund. Victims would present their arguments before a panel and the panel would determine each victim’s compensation amount, if any. Victims who have developed severe and fatal asbestos related cancers such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, or lung cancer will be limited to $1 million in compensation.
Why was the Bill Introduced?
The bill was introduced because many asbestos settlements and verdicts against individual defendants were not being paid. Many defendants were unable to pay the multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements and often went bankrupt. Congress also believed that asbestos lawsuits were time-consuming and clogging the courts. Congress introduced the bill to create a centralized location to bring asbestos claims and ensure victims will be compensated from a well financed fund.
Who would the FAIR Act Affect?
The FAIR Act will apply to injured victims that have not reached a judgment or settlement. The Act will also apply to victims with jury verdicts on pending appeal. These claims cannot be brought in state court and must be filed with the fund.
Who will Finance the Fund?
Companies responsible for asbestos exposure will finance the Asbestos Injury Claims Resolution Fund. Companies and their insurers that contribute money to the $140 billion fund will then be protected from future asbestos lawsuits.
Will the Bill be Passed?
The bill was introduced on the Senate floor in 2005 but expired before approval. Congress has since made many amendments to the proposed bill. The Bill has not been reintroduced and there is no indication when Congress will vote on the Bill.
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