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July 1, 2013

RICKARD: ‘Plain Evidence’ that Fraud and Abuse Exist in Asbestos Bankruptcy Trusts

The following letter to the editor by ILR President Lisa A. Rickard appeared in today’s New York Times. Her letter was in response to a Times June 20 editorial, “One-Sided Bill on Asbestos Injuries,” which argued that Congress shouldn’t pass the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act until significant fraud in the asbestos bankruptcy claims process is detailed. 

To the Editor: 

There is plain evidence that fraud and abuse already exist in the trusts set up by companies to pay asbestos claims. 

A 2012 House Judiciary Committee report detailed highly questionable claims, citing numerous examples. In March, The Wall Street Journal chronicled thousands of highly questionable trust claims in a major front-page article. 

The Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act simply requires the trusts to make public information that they already collect about who has made claims against what trusts. And we believe that it places zero burden on claimants. 

Most asbestos trusts have recently lowered their payouts to claimants because they are running out of money because of increased claims. Those who are indeed pro-claimant should support legislation that will ensure money for legitimate future claimants. Those defending the status quo are really supporting the current cash machine system that primarily enriches plaintiffs’ lawyers. 

Lisa A. Rickard
President
Institute for Legal Reform 
U.S. Chamber of Commerce

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