For mesothelioma patients and their families, the FACT Act currently making its way through the U.S. House of Representatives is a real slap in the face. And few are more aware of this than Susan Vento. Vento is the widow of the late Congressman Bruce F. Vento (D-Minn.), who died of pleural mesothelioma in 2000.
In this opinion piece in Roll Call, Vento expresses her outrage about the decision by her husband’s one-time congressional colleagues to move FACT out of committee and on to the House floor.
The legislation, H.R. 982 (The Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2013), is ostensibly about bringing transparency to the asbestos legal claims process. The bill is supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (which is not a government entity) and the asbestos industry.
Vento and other critics argue that the FACT Act is just a way for the asbestos companies and their insurers to delay justice and compensation to those who are sick or dying from mesothelioma and other serious diseases caused by asbestos exposure.
The FACT Act is not about transparency at all, argues Vento. It requires the unbelievable disclosure on a public website of asbestos victims’ personal information, including the last four digits of their Social Security numbers, information about their finances, their children, and other sensitive material that could subject them to identity theft and possible criminal mischief.
While the corporate supporters of the FACT Act say requiring this information and making it available publically is necessary to prevent asbestos trust fraud, Vento points to an investigation by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that found no evidence of fraud in the asbestos trust system.
Many of those who would see their last four digits of their Social Security numbers revealed are veterans who served our country honorably. Surely Congress will understand the FACT Act is a violation of privacy for those who have already been victimized, writes Vento.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you may want to take legal action. Contact Sokolove Law today for a free case evaluation.