News from ATLA: Senate to vote on important asbestos bill today

Tell your senators your feelings about this bill using ATLA's Web site
(4/22/2004) -- The Association of Trial Lawyers of America reports that the U.S. Senate will today vote on proceeding to S. 2290, the so-called "Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution" bill, which would remove asbestos cases from the civil justice system and force the victims of asbestos poisoning into an administrative compensation system.

According to ATLA, this bill would take away from victims their right to a day in court, and delay compensation, possibly for years. In addition, restrictive medical criteria in the bill would deny compensation to thousands of victims who were poisoned by companies who hid the truth about their deadly product, according to ATLA.

ATLA is urging all consumers to contact their Senators and urge them to oppose the bill. You can go to the People Over Profits website to send them a message:

You can also call 800-813-4729 to be connected directly with your Senators' offices.

ATLA has called the the Frist-Hatch asbestos bill a slap in the face of asbestos victims.

ATLA reports that at $113 billion, the funding falls far short of all estimates of funds needed to fully compensate victims. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated the cost to be at least $153 billion, and other experts believe it is higher.

According to ATLA, the bill throws most existing settlements, verdicts on appeal and all pending cases into the fund, delaying compensation, possibly for years. It would force people who thought they were almost done with the agonizing process to start all over again - but this time, without a lawyer to help them navigate an untried bureaucracy.

It also excludes large categories of asbestos victims who were not exposed at work or who did not work long enough for the company that knowingly exposed them to the deadly substance, leaving sick people or surviving family members with nowhere to turn, according to ATLA.