House passes bill to restrict the rights of class action plaintiffs, asbestos exposure victims

by Michael Heygood

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a new bill that would make it harder for prospective plaintiffs to join a class action lawsuit. The bill, known officially as the Fairness in Class Action Litigation and Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act, would also place restrictions on the ability of victims of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases to seek compensation for their injuries from manufacturers of asbestos products.

Initially proposed as the Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act (or FACT Act), the new bill was intended to make it harder for plaintiffs to file class action lawsuits by requiring them to submit proof before a federal court can certify the lawsuit that each proposed member of the class has the same extent of injuries. After debate over the new bill began in the House, legislators added an additional component to the bill, the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act, which requires victims of asbestos-related diseases who file a lawsuit to submit information when they seek compensation from an asbestos trust.

Critics of the bill say that the new measures will make it harder for class action plaintiffs and patients suffering from mesothelioma, asbestosis, or other asbestos conditions to receive fair compensation for the injuries they have suffered. Advocates for asbestos victims have also argued that the bill would allow scam artists and identity thieves to prey on plaintiffs who have filed claims with asbestos trusts.

These privacy concerns arose in connection with a portion of the bill that requires personal injury asbestos settlement trusts to file quarterly reports with bankruptcy courts that would be made publicly available and include information about victims who have submitted claims to the trust. Critics say that the FACT Act would help “identity thieves by placing highly sensitive information in public databases.”

The House bill to restrict the rights of class action plaintiffs and victims of asbestos exposure passed in a 211-188 vote mostly along party lines, with Republicans voting in favor of the measure. The bill is expected to be vetoed by President Obama if it is sent to his desk for signature.

Victims of Asbestos Diseases May Qualify to File a Lawsuit

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, or other illnesses caused by work on an asbestos jobsite, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit and receive compensation. The first step in filing a case is seeking a consultation with an experienced attorney who can guide you through the litigation process.

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have handled hundreds of personal injury lawsuits on behalf of clients who were injured in the workplace or because of other mishaps. Our attorneys have achieved verdicts and settlements for our clients totaling more than $200 million—including settlements of over $50 million in 2010 alone.

Legal records have shown that the companies who manufactured asbestos products knew about the health risks associated with asbestos for decades, but failed to alert the public or their workers about the significant dangers posed by asbestos exposure. Workers who were exposed to asbestos on the job may face expensive medical bills due to the high costs associated with treatments for mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Costs associated with the treatment of asbestos illnesses can include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, medications, and doctor bills.

Our law firm has the financial resources to handle cases involving personal injury from beginning to end. In many instances, our firm has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in order to take our client’s case to trial and achieve the best possible outcome for their case. At Heygood, Orr & Pearson, we are committed to achieving justice for our clients, whatever the cost.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer, or other diseases caused by asbestos exposure, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson for a free case evaluation and to learn more about filing a lawsuit. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by following the link to our free legal consultation form located on this website.

by Michael Heygood

Michael Heygood is a licensed attorney and partner at HO&P who focuses on insurance and corporate litigation, and other civil arenas. Michael has been named multiple times to the Super Lawyers List.