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Thursday, May 12, 2005

Senate Judiciary Committee wants sickest asbestos victims compensated fastest
Jamie Sterling at 9:08 AM ET

[JURIST] The US Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] Wednesday approved an amendment to the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act of 2005 (FAIR) [PDF text] which would guarantee that the sickest asbestos victims will be compensated the fastest. The FAIR Act, which has been delayed in the Senate for some time [JURIST report], creates a $140B compensation fund for asbestos victims designed to end litigation over asbestos injury. To ensure the passage of the new amendment, two other amendments were added to the text of the legislation, including one allowing the Department of Defense to use asbestos in equipment where they may be no asbestos substitute, and another allowing the fund administrator to grant flexibility in payments from companies based on financial hardship. Judiciary Chairman Sen. Arlen Specter believes the bill will be finished by the end of the month [press release]. The sickest asbestos victims suffer from mesothelioma, a particularly lethal cancer of the chest lining, and the amendment to the bill allows them to receive $1.1M within 30 days of their claim's approval. The Asbestos Workers Union [union website] believes the bill needs more work before passage [open letter from member]. The American Public Health Association also opposes the bill [letter to Senate], believing it will adversely affect some victims. Reuters has more.

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