January 8, 2016
Statement by Joanne Doroshow, Executive Director, Center for Justice & Democracy
on House Approval of H.R. 1927, the Fairness in Class Action Litigation
and Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2015
Today, we strongly condemn the U.S. House of Representatives for voting to approve legislation that would destroy federal class actions and greatly harm asbestos victims. In a series of letters to the House, more than 70 national and state organizations have expressed strong opposition to this legislation, including a broad array of prominent consumer, civil rights, church, immigration, labor, environmental, health, food and product safety, employment, housing, senior citizen, children’s, low-income and legal services organizations, among others.
This legislation would end nearly all federal class action lawsuits, which are brought when a company practices a pattern of discrimination or receives a large windfall through small injuries to large numbers of people. Because class actions allow people to band together to challenge wrongdoing, they are among the most important ways harmed, cheated and violated individuals have to hold large corporations accountable. This legislation would wipe out one of the most important tools for justice in America.
This bill would also delay compensation to dying asbestos victims for no reason, ensuring that many victims will die before families are compensated. It would also require the posting of private information about their lives on public websites, making them vulnerable to crooks and identity thieves. The asbestos industry lied for decades about the harm caused by asbestos, fought against liability for the harms caused, and, to this day, fight against banning asbestos in the United States. This toxin still kills up to 15,000 Americans each year. H.R. 1927 is nothing but another industry attempt to torment victims and avoid responsibility for the grave harms they have caused.