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Victims' Organizations & Physicians Opposition Points

ADAO Stakeholder meeting and Press Conference Ð Monday, 4/25 produced a joint statement on objections to the bill, which was reported Monday afternoon at a well-attended press conference in Washington.

Senate Bill 852 was written without the voice of the victims. At the same time, it protects the asbestos industry and cuts its liability at every turnÉwe believe the victimsÕ organizations gathered here today Ð and the thousands of victims we represent across the country Ð would support an asbestos resolution bill --- if it was fair and equitable. There are solutions to this problem. But, they are not represented in this bill. The asbestos companies are not victims. Congress should only pass legislation that properly protects and supports those who are.

Unjust Elimination of Constitutional Rights Ð Moses Boyd

1. Despite the fact that the asbestos public health crisis was created by companies that willfully hid the hazard for decades, this bill imposes on their victims the most punitive action that Congress can take toward American citizens - elimination of their constitutional right to a jury trial and, thereby, their right to protect themselves, setting a precedent of a dissolution of The Bill of Rights. Elimination of jury trials ensures unfairness in the allocation of compensation among victims, because it treats victims as interchangeable, despite great differences in age and life situations. This bill should provide an alternative to jury trial, at the option of the victim.

Probable Trust Fund Insolvency Ð Doug Larkin

2. The bill provides no guarantee of equitable and speedy compensation to victims. Indeed, its wholly inadequate funding ensures that compensation to victims will be inadequate to meet their needs.

  • a. The bill should provide for transparency of corporate commitments to the fund.
  • b. The proposed target of $140 billion, with no guarantee that it will even be met, is unacceptably low. Even the minimum economic costs to victims are now estimated at $250 billion. The target should be doubled.
  • Unwarranted Ineligibility and Exclusion of Claims Ð Jonathan Bennett, Rachel Lidov & Dr. Arthur Frank

    3. Ineligibility and exclusions of victimsÕ claims.

  • a. The eligibility provision that a person must prove asbestos occupational exposure from 15 months to 15 years depending on the "level of disease" must be eliminated. Medical research has established that any exposure to asbestos can result in asbestos related diseases.
  • b. Exclusion of Level VII lung cancer victims' claims must be eliminated
  • c. Ineligibility of victims exposed environmentally or para-occupationally must be eliminated. Special eligibility clause provides compensation for Libby, Montana, victims, but not for victims from El Dorado, California; Hamilton, NJ; Denver, Colorado - Libby Phase 1 site residents in lower NYC and residents in neighboring states including New Jersey. This exclusion must be eliminated.
  • d. Also excluded: 911 survivors
  • Faulty Medical Criteria Ð Dr. Arthur Frank

    4. The legislation includes very restrictive medical criteria standards that, according to physicians' groups, are faulty and without a sound scientific and medical basis. These extreme standards are clearly designed to minimize or eliminate payments to victims. The American Thoracic Society (ATS) Guidelines for the Evaluation and Initial Treatment of Non-Malignant Asbestos Diseases must be included in the medical criteria.

  • a. Smoking correlation to increased disease
  • No-Fault Fallacies - Michael Bowker (statement read)

    5. The burdensome nature of the claim process is designed to discourage and exclude victims. The bill provides no guarantee of legal assistance. The process is called "no-fault," but it subtly places fault upon the victim, in terms of burdensome requirements for proof. The caps of 5% on attorneysÕ fees will realistically preclude any victim from obtaining legal counsel. A more realistic allowance for attorneys is the only way to guarantee competent representation for victims.

    Insufficient Upfront Funding Ð Ellen Patton

    6. The $43 billion startup funding is grossly insufficient and will result in almost immediate depletion of the fund upon startup, thereby further delaying compensation for victims. Victims forced to return to the courts might not receive full compensation for 5 - 8 years, exceeding the expected remaining lifetime of many victims. This figure needs to be approximately $100 billion to improve likelihood of maintaining solvency early and over the life of the fund.

    Unfair Transition from Existing Filed Cases Ð Paul Zygielbaum

    7. The bill unfairly, and without justification, provides no transition to accommodate cases that are close to adjudication but will not meet the strict schedule in the bill, thereby unfairly penalizing victims who have already spent several years in the courts in pursuit of their claims. Claims already filed in courts must be allowed to proceed. If the intent of the bill is to protect victims who have no other recourse for compensation, then victims who have other recourse should be allowed to opt out of participation to pursue their cases through jury trial. The lack of an opt-out clause is fundamentally unfair to victims.

    Research, Prevention, Education, Outreach Severely Underfunded Ð Linda Reinstein

    8. International data supports the United States estimations and predictions for future victims are all too low. All treatment centers should included patients suffering from all forms of malignant and nonmalignant asbestos-related diseases. Doctors recommend immediate funding for stand-alone programs for research, prevention, education and outreach.

    Neglect of Financial Factors Critical to Victims - Herman Hamilton

    9. Financial aspects of awards are poorly defined in this bill. Their neglect reflects a preponderance of attention to the needs of the defendants and their insurers in the drafting of this bill.

  • a. There should not be any offsets or taxes applied to any settlement.
  • b. The cost-of-living adjustment clause ignores the rapid rise in health care costs, so victims lacking health insurance will rapidly exhaust their compensation in paying medical bills. The COLA should reflect realistic expectations of expenses for victims.
  • c. The provision for annuities does not allow for rights of survivorship, choices in annuity structure, nor the process for establishing these provisions. These must be defined in such a way as to maximize the benefits to the victims and their survivors.
  • d. The bill discriminates against those victims who have already settled court cases by including attorneys fees and expenses in collateral sources that are to be deducted from awards from the fund. Existing settlements should not be offsets to compensation from the fund.

    Administrative Uncertainty Precludes Confidence in Fund Ð Jim Fite

    10. This bill provides no measure of security for victims, because throughout the life of the fund, the process is riddled with opportunities for the Administrator, at his/her sole discretion, to make alterations that can be devastating to victims. Even the Advisory Committee definition is devoid of victim representation. The administrative structure and processes must be revamped to provide a secure basis for planning by victims, not just defendants and insurers.

    Lack of Provision for Enforcement of Ban on Asbestos Ð Brent Knoych

    Gayla Benefield was unable to attend the Stakeholder meeting, but presented an opposition statement on behalf of the Asbestos Victim's Relief Organization.



    Front Page, Week Of:

    4/16/05: Spectre to Introduce U.S. Asbestos Bill This Week

    5/22/05: Individuals Injured by Asbestos Exposure Oppose Specter's Trust Fund Legislation

    10/16/05: Victim's Organizations Form Asbestos Victims Coalition in Opposition to Asbestos Trust Fund Legislation

    11/17/05: White Lung Mourns Jose Jesus Pessora

    12/18/05: Frist Introducing Asbestos Bill in January

    12/04/06: Asbestos Watch Newsletter: Help Celebrate the 27th Anniversary of the WHITE LUNG ASSOCIATION

    Jim Fite's Alerts:

    Asbestos Victim's Superfund Compensation Program

    Asbestos Watch March 14, 2005 (Maryland chapter of the White Lung Association meetings)

    Directorate of Safety, Health, and Environment (open letter)


    Joe Oliver's Alerts:

    Joe Oliver, National Board Member and former President of the White Lung Association, has issued a call to all persons to help gather evidence on the conspiracy by asbestos trade organizations to suppress the knowledge about the hazards of asbestos exposure.

    If you know anything about this horrific history or have documents which can be used to further prove their heinous crimes, please contact Joe Oliver, WLA, POB 1483, Balt. MD 21203.

    Leonard Makowski's Alerts:

    The White Lung Association stands in opposition to The Specter Bill (S.852)

    WLA Alerts & News

    S.1115: Bill to amend the Toxic Substances Control Act to reduce the health risks posed by asbestos-containing products - This bill is supported by the WLA.

    Meet Mr. Asbestos

    Proceedings of the Asbestos Symposium for the Asian Countries - now available for purchase.

    Australia Bans Asbestos!



    Senator Specter Breaks Promise to Mesothelioma Patient and Research Community

    Senate Judiciary Committee returns to Mark-Up on May 11th: Proposed asbestos trust fund legislation will further penalize victims of asbestos-caused diseases


    World Trade Center Health:

    In May 2003, the Global Environment & Technology Foundation developed the "Asbestos Strategies" report.

    British Asbestos Newsletter:

    The latest issue is Spring 2005


    News from India:

    The latest issue is January 4, 2007



    December 17, 2000 is Asbestos Hazard Awareness Day


    Current Projects:

    Asbestos Museum


    Articles & Publications:

    Occupational Respiratory Diseases: Asbestos Associated Disease -- Reprinted from: Maxcy-Rosenau Public Health and Preventative Medicine 11th ed. (John M. Last, Ed.) 1980, Appleton-Century-Crofts

    Asbestos Victims Deserve Compensation Not Betrayal: position release by the Board of Directors, White Lung Association



    In Memoria:

    Paul Safchuck May 21, 2003

    Dr. William Nicholson Dies at 70

    Ray Sentes Brave Fighter For Asbestos Victims

    For more information please contact info whitelung org.