The Administration opposes House passage of H.R. 982, which would require trusts set up through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization caused by asbestos liabilities to: (1) file a publicly available quarterly report with the bankruptcy court that would include personal information about individuals who have filed claims asserting asbestos-related injuries, including their names, exposure history, and basis for any payment made to them; and (2) provide any information related to payment from and demands for payment from such trust to any party to any action in law or equity concerning liability for asbestos exposure. The legislation is based on the false assertion that there is endemic fraud in the asbestos trust system.The bill’s mandatory reporting and disclosure requirements would threaten asbestos victims’ privacy when they seek payment for injuries from an asbestos bankruptcy trust. Claimants’ sensitive personal information – including their names and exposure histories – would be irretrievably released into the public domain and thus available to parties unrelated to the claims (including insurance companies, prospective employers, lenders, and data collectors). These parties could then use this personal information for purposes entirely unrelated to compensation for asbestos exposure, potentially to the detriment of asbestos victims. The information on this public registry could be used to deny employment, credit, and insurance. Victims would be more vulnerable to identity thieves and other types of predators. These requirements could be particularly harmful to veterans of the Armed Forces of the United States, who have been disproportionately affected by asbestos.
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
FACT or Fiction?
Rep. Blake Farenthold (R., TX) has introduced H.R.982, the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2013. The measure amends federal bankruptcy law in order to provide more transparency regarding payment to trusts in asbestos claims. The White House, however, believes that the bill threatens victims' privacy, and that such sensitive personal information should not be made public. The Administration statement on the bill details the following: