WASHINGTON, D.C., March 16, 2000 - The United States Chamber of Commerce today called the House Judiciary Committee's passage of the Fairness in Asbestos Compensation Act (H.R. 1283) an important step toward resolving billions of dollars in compensation claims.
The asbestos litigation reform bill is designed to speed settlements, unclog courts and restore a measure of predictability for affected companies. The proposal establishes federal authority to speed compensation to the hundreds of thousands of people physically harmed by asbestos.
"Without asbestos litigation reform, the court system will continue to be tied up by bogus claims, while those truly injured by exposure to asbestos wait years for compensation that is consumed by attorneys' fees and other transaction costs," said Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber.
"Meanwhile, numerous defendant companies are driven to bankruptcy, as they knuckle under and pay out billion dollar settlements to trial lawyers rather than legitimate claimants," he added.
Attorneys take a huge share of the settlement dollars - up to 60 cents on every dollar, according to Donohue. "Even more troubling, if left unchecked trial lawyers will be able to use the plaintiff bar's tactics from asbestos cases to target other industries. We applaud Chairman Hyde's strong leadership on this complicated but important issue," he concluded.