Legal Intern, Manhattan Institute's Center for Legal Policy
One of our fundamental rights as citizens is the ability to seek redress of our grievances. Over time, this practice spread from government to private industry, as workers' rights against their employers in abusive or harmful situations were codified in legislation.
The establishment of the asbestos bankruptcy trust was meant to offer a compromise path through which employees could achieve restitution for their asbestos-related injuries, and employers could avoid cost overruns and premature bankruptcies.
However, the surreptitious manner in which the trusts have been run has allowed for opportunistic lawyers to take advantage of them by submitting frivolous, fraud-riddled claims.
The goal of the trusts stand as the fulfillment of just compensation for injured workers, but the main beneficiaries are turning out to be lawyers who make claims on behalf of "clients."
To remedy this injustice, the FACT Act was meant to mandate quarterly reporting of claims made on the trust, as well as allow for more compliance with third-party discovery requests made on the trust.
Because there are no compliance costs or other significant burdens associated with the law's passage, we can assume the asbestos industry's opposition to the FACT Act stems from a desire to lessen transparency. If there is no transparency, the industry can continue to make baseless claims and reap fraudulent profits.
Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, has written an op-ed detailing the reasons for the asbestos industry's continued obfuscation.