Asbestos is the quintessential example of corporations knowing that they were marketing deadly products and covering up the evidence for profit. By the 1930s, asbestos manufacturers were aware that their workers were dying at alarming rates. Yet they hid the dangers for more than half a century.
Asbestos-related diseases have a 20 to 50 year latency period, which means many of those exposed decades earlier are dying now. In fact, to this day, diseases linked to asbestos exposure kill at least 10,000 Americans every year, and are projected to kill 100,000 more over the next decade.
Workers exposed to asbestos have begun to receive justice in the courts. But the corporations that have profited from asbestos are trying to close the courthouse doors. Front groups for the asbestos industry are working hard to pass legislation that delays justice and allows corporations to deny accountability.
As the civil justice system uncovered internal industry documents revealing a breathtaking disregard for human life, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) ran a campaign to let the asbestos industry off-the-hook. The groups have assisted asbestos corporations in covering-up the dangers of asbestos, vilifying the victims, misleading the public with propaganda and working to limit accountability through legislation.
The “Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2013” (H.R.982), is part of the latest tactic implemented by ALEC and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to let the asbestos industry off the hook by burying the system in paperwork and delaying justice until victims die. This strategy focuses on an easily misunderstood bankruptcy process and takes a three-pronged approach:
Pulling back the curtain on this legislation shows where transparency is needed – with the asbestos industry and the front groups working on its behalf.