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Asbestos bankruptcy trust transparency bill introduced in Senate


A bill designed to enhance transparency in asbestos bankruptcy trusts has been introduced in the U.S. Senate.

The Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2014 — S. 2319 — would “ensure that asbestos bankruptcy settlement trusts are able to fully compensate future claimants by preventing fraud through increased transparency,” according to a statement issued by its sponsor, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. “Congress must act now to increase transparency and combat fraud within the asbestos-settlement system if future victims of asbestos-related injuries are to be protected,” said Sen. Flake in a statement issued when he introduced the bill Monday.

The measure would require asbestos bankruptcy settlement trusts to disclose the names and exposure history of those who have filed a claim with the trust. The bill prohibits the disclosure of confidential medical records and full Social Security numbers of claimants so that their privacy rights are not violated.

A companion measure won House approval last November.

Sen. Flake's introduction of the bill drew praise from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform.

“We applaud Senator Flake's effort to shed light on the growing number of bankruptcy trusts that play a significant role in today's asbestos compensation system,” said Lisa Rickard, president of the Washington-based institute, in a statement. “Fraud and abuse in the system drain the funds available to deserving claimants and force solvent companies, as well as their shareholders and employees, to pay more than their fair share when claimants 'double dip' in court and in the trust systems.”