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Seniors to Congress: An Asbestos Trust Fund is the Only Answer to the Current Broken Asbestos Litigation System
To: National Desk and Health Reporter
Contact: Ben Boxer of the Seniors Coalition, 703-631-4211
WASHINGTON, April 12 /U.S. Newswire/ -- Amid media reports that Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter is preparing to formally introduce legislation that would address the asbestos legal crisis later this week, three seniors organizations -The Seniors Coalition, RetireSafe, and 60 Plus Association -- today sent a letter to all members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, urging them to adopt a trust find solution to the current broken system.
"A trust fund solution is the only solution that will guarantee that sick victims receive certain and timely compensation," the three seniors groups wrote in a letter sent earlier today. "Seniors who enter the court system in search of compensation today face long waits for court dates -- some must wait years. For some seniors with grave asbestos-related illnesses, that wait is too long, and they die without ever receiving any compensation."
Specter's bill is expected to include a trust fund that would pay asbestos claims on a no-fault basis, and take the current backlog of asbestos cases out of the court system. The trust would be financed by asbestos defendant companies and their insurers.
The seniors groups urged Senators not to let this important legislation be waylaid by trial lawyers and other special interests.
"Sick asbestos victims simply can't wait any longer for a solution to this growing crisis," the groups said.
The full text of the letter signed by the seniors group is included below.
April 12, 2005
On behalf of senior citizens across the country, we would like to underline the importance of adopting a trust fund solution to fix our out-of-control asbestos litigation system. A trust fund is the only solution that will guarantee that sick victims receive certain and timely compensation.
Our nation's seniors dominated the workforce during the era when asbestos was commonly used for fireproofing and insulation. Today, a large number of these seniors suffer from deadly asbestos-related diseases, such as asbestosis and mesothelioma.
Seniors who enter the court system in search of compensation today face long waits for court dates -- some must wait years. For some seniors with grave asbestos-related illnesses, that wait is too long, and they die without ever receiving any compensation.
Only the asbestos victims compensation fund approach will solve these problems by compensating sick victims quickly and fairly. If you are sick with an asbestos-related illness, you will get paid under the asbestos victims compensation fund -- it is as simple as that. Individuals who get sicker after their initial award would qualify for additional compensation.
Under the current system, as much as 60 percent of all jury awards to victims goes to attorneys and the courts to cover legal fees. The asbestos victims compensation fund would eliminate lawyer profiteering once and for all, because victims would no longer have to hire a lawyer to file a claim. As a result, victims and their families would finally get the funds they deserve.
This issue is too important to be waylaid by trial lawyers and other special interests. The asbestos litigation system is broken and must be fixed. A trust fund solution is the only viable solution. And because the fund will be paid for by businesses and insurance companies, it won't be a burden on taxpayers.
The current system must be changed. Please think of seniors and other victims and act quickly. Sick asbestos victims simply can't wait any longer for a solution to this growing crisis.
David Herman, executive director, The Seniors Coalition
Charles G. Hardin, president, RetireSafe
James L. Martin, president, 60 Plus Association
Residents Displaced After Asbestos Finding Want Answers
August 3, 2006 - DENVER -- It's been eight weeks since about 300 Denver residents were forced from their homes because of asbestos. The residents said Thursday they know no more than they did the day they were evacuated and yet, they have not been allowed to return.
The High-Line Terrace Apartments, located in the 1000 block of South Parker Road in Denver, were evacuated in May after workers discovered airborne asbestos.
"I have been sleeping on the floor for eight weeks," said resident Leslie Wingerath. "I was told to take my necessities and that is it. They actually had the audacity to tell us that is all we could take."
To this day, not even one building has had abatement done.
"We think the work that has been done today is the appropriate work," said Margi Perkins of the Colorado Health Department. "It would be nice if work could be done faster, but clearly, to get through 45 floors and 350 units and make the kind of assessments that need to be made, we think the appropriate amount of work has been done. To that extent, it's adequate."
On Monday, the contractor on the project is expected to submit a plan to the Health Department explaining what they are going to do about cleaning and returning belongings to displaced residents.
"All these people on all these different levels may not have a legal obligation to take care of this, but does anybody do the right thing just to do the right thing," said Wingerath.
7NEWS left messages with the owners of the property to get some answers. As of Thursday, they had not returned the calls.