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New Federal Laws on Asbestos Claims

New legislation is working its way through Congress that could end up having an enormous impact on compensation recovery options for mesothelioma cancer victims seeking justice for the asbestos exposure. Recently, the House of Representatives consolidated a pair of tort law reform bills targeting class action lawsuit and asbestos bankruptcy trusts to make it harder for plaintiffs to have their day in court.

Last year, the House of Representatives passed the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act and the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2017 (FACT) but the bills stalled in Senate committees after consolidation. Even if both houses of Congress approved the bills, then President Barack Obama indicated he would have vetoed the legislation, which would not have the necessary votes to override the veto and become national law.

However, with a new Republican majority in the House and Senate, as well as the White House, the bills are poised to become law after re-submission and passage in the House of Representatives, again consolidated together. While each bills focuses on distinct areas of tort reform, the provisions of the FACT Act poses the greatest threat to victim recovery following a devastating mesothelioma cancer diagnosis.

The FACT Act would require bankruptcy trusts created by asbestos manufacturers to file quarterly reports on dockets that include information on claims submitted and the basis for such submissions. Supporters of the bill claim the legislation will make it harder for scammers to take advantage of trusts set up to ensure victims receive vital compensation even after the defendant has been long since bankrupted.

As much as lawmakers claim the legislation will protect the rights of some asbestos cancer victims, the truth is that many otherwise legitimate claims may be caught up in the hunt to root out non-meritorious claims. Furthermore, opponents of the bill assert the law would divulge sensitive client information to unscrupulous parties bent on taking advantage of vulnerable parties, as well as other entities like employers and debt collectors.

Wrapped up with the FACT Act is the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act, a law designed to limit the size of potential class action lawsuit by creating a higher standard class members must prove to show their injuries are similar enough to join together in one suit. Currently, the proposed bills are still working their way through the Republican controlled Senate but are expected to pass and make their way to President Donald Trump's desk.

Other tort reform bills in Congress include the Innocent Party Protection Act. That bill aims to make it more difficult for plaintiffs to enjoin other defendants to keep a claim in a particular state court.

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If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office to speak with an experienced nationwide mesothelioma attorney about your situation. Our office can help investigate your case and determine if compensation can be sought from negligent parties to help pay for your medical treatment to help you and your family live a more comfortable life.

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