WASHINGTON - The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing to review the newly revised "Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution (FAIR) Act of 2006" (S. 3274). An earlier version did not get the 60 votes required to advance in the Senate. Sens. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) co-authored the revised bill, as they did the original legislation.

The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council) has been supporting a solution to the asbestos litigation problem and Karen Kerrigan, SBE Council president and CEO, applauded the two senators for sticking with this contentious issue. She commented, "The FAIR Act is important for small businesses and it is vital the Senate passes it this year. The bill would stop the endless asbestos litigation that has been plaguing small businesses and establish a trust fund to reimburse victims of asbestos exposure. Increasingly, smaller firms have been impacted by these suits and many simply cannot muster the legal resources required to defend themselves against fraudulent lawsuits. Therefore, bankruptcy is often the result."

According to the SBE Council, over 8,400 businesses have been sued already, many of which are small businesses. "This trend will only get worse if the FAIR Act does not become law. We urge the Senate to support small businesses and move this legislation forward this year. Our nation's small business owners deserve it," said Kerrigan.

No taxpayer money would be used to set up the proposed legislation's trust fund - the revenue would come from the larger businesses currently involved in litigation. Small business would receive the same immunity from lawsuits as the big businesses that pay into the fund but would not have to pay themselves.

Publication date: 06/12/2006