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Asbestos Legislation Called 'Unjust'

WASHINGTON - "Grossly unjust" is how Dirk Van Dongen described S. 2290, the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act. Van Dongen, president of the National Association of Wholesaler-Distributors (NAW), voiced his opposition in a letter to U.S. Sen. Orrin G. Hatch, Utah, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The legislation is designed to resolve the growing asbestos litigation problem by creating a trust fund - paid into by manufacturers, distributors, and others involved in asbestos lawsuits - which would then pay the claims of injured parties.

"The trust fund approach adopted in S. 2290 suffers from the same weakness that plagued its predecessor in S. 1125, the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act of 2003," wrote Van Dongen. "Many wholesaler-distributors and others face larger out-of-pocket asbestos-related costs under S. 2290 than they do under the tort system now in place.

"At the same time, this bill proposes to dramatically reduce the costs paid by others. This, we believe, is grossly unjust. The effort in which NAW has participated to ameliorate this problem has proven unsuccessful to date.

"We stand ready and are anxious to work with you in the search for an approach that offers a reasonable prospect for success that has for too long proven elusive," Van Dongen concluded.

Publication date: 04/19/2004

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