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January 6, 2005

U.S. Chamber Welcomes President Bush?s Calls For Asbestos Litigation Reform

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) today welcomed President George W. Bush’s renewed calls for passage of asbestos litigation reform legislation by the U.S. Congress.

“President Bush knows what many asbestos victims and employers know all too well – that America’s asbestos compensation system is badly broken,” said Lisa A. Rickard, president of ILR. “With his active support, we are optimistic that a reasonable solution to this critical problem can be found.”

To date, American companies have paid out an estimated $70 billion on some 730,000 asbestos personal injury claims, making it one of the most expensive types of litigation in U.S. history. Additionally, the asbestos litigation system has forced more than 70 companies into bankruptcy, costing as many as 60,000 Americans their jobs. Plaintiffs’ lawyers have launched massive campaigns to recruit asbestos victims to sue companies, yet many of these “recruits” have had only passing exposure to asbestos and do not show any signs of illness. The asbestos litigation system is also known to be rife with fraud and abuse.

“Our asbestos litigation system has not only failed the sick people it was designed to help, but has also crippled companies and cost workers their jobs in the process,” added Rickard. “The Chamber is eager to continue working with the administration, Congress and the business community toward a common sense solution that will put a stop to asbestos lawsuit abuse and its costly side-effects.”

The mission of the Institute for Legal Reform is to make America’s legal system simpler, fairer and faster for everyone. It seeks to promote civil justice reform through legislative, political, judicial and educational activities at the national, state and local levels. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation, representing more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector and region.

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