Last time, we began speaking about two House bills currently under consideration—the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act and the Further Asbestos Claims Transparency Act. As we noted, the aim of these bills is to prevent overbroad classification, but there is the concern that these bills, if passed into law, will make it harder for victims of corporate wrongdoing to receive compensation.
Opponents of the bills say they is crafted to prevent compensation of those harmed by faulty products, as well as those who suffer as a result of environmental violations and toxic torts, including asbestos exposure. With respect to the asbestos bill, there are not only concerns with access to the court system, but also with potential privacy violations.
Asbestos litigation, as some readers may know, is somewhat unique among mass tort actions in that many companies which have been pursued for their use of asbestos have established trusts—often in connection with bankruptcy filings—to compensate victims harmed by asbestos exposure. The fact that victims may be compensated not only in the traditional tort system, but also by trusts, adds a layer of complexity to such litigation.
One problem that has been raised with the bifurcated asbestos compensation system is that of accounting for trust and tort compensation and properly assigning fault to bankrupt companies. For plaintiffs, navigating these issues can become complicated, and it is important to work with an attorney who understands the system and how to advocate for plaintiffs. As in any form of litigation, working with an experienced advocate ensures that one has the best possible chance of receiving just compensation.