Legal Intern, Manhattan Institute's Center for Legal Policy
In the June 30th letters to the editor section of the New York Times, Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform, made her feelings clear about a June 19th editorial entitled "One-Sided Bill on Asbestos Injuries":
There is plain evidence that fraud and abuse already exist in the trusts set up by companies to pay asbestos claims.
A 2012 House Judiciary Committee report detailed highly questionable claims, citing numerous examples. In March, The Wall Street Journal chronicled thousands of highly questionable trust claims in a major front-page article.
The Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act simply requires the trusts to make public information that they already collect about who has made claims against what trusts. And we believe that it places zero burden on claimants.
Most asbestos trusts have recently lowered their payouts to claimants because they are running out of money because of increased claims. Those who are indeed pro-claimant should support legislation that will ensure money for legitimate future claimants. Those defending the status quo are really supporting the current cash machine system that primarily enriches plaintiffs' lawyers.
Before concluding that a bill is "one-sided," the NYT may find it prudent to scrutinize the compendium of information available on both sides of the issue to ensure they are not advocating against the interests of the very claimants they profess to be protecting.