The Wall Street Journal called on Congress to support the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act (the FACT Act), baselessly speculating that this GOP bill will curb fraudulent asbestos claims, even though there is no evidence of widespread fraud.
WSJ supports the FACT Act, which has also been championed by the pro-business juggernaut U.S. Chamber of Commerce and has received no bipartisan support. This is not the first time the WSJ has come out in favor of corporate efforts to deny justice to victims of asbestos exposure.
The WSJ spends the rest of its editorial fear-mongering about the potential for fraudulent claims being filed with the asbestos trusts. It cites only a few instances of fraud, and claims that one corporation at the center of asbestos litigation "has evidence" of more -- but it is unable to provide any specifics because the "evidence" has been sealed by a federal judge.
What the WSJ doesn't mention is that the FACT Act "solves" a non-existent problem. There is little to no evidence of rampant fraud, and the error rate in payments from the asbestos trusts is reportedly only .35 percent. According to the Center for Justice & Democracy, concerns over fraudulent claims been severely overblown, but the FACT Act has raised very legitimate questions about the privacy of claimants -- questions the WSJ dismisses:
WSJ doesn't seem to mind that the FACT Act puts unique burdens on claimants that it does not place on the asbestos companies that injured them in the first place. Victims of asbestos exposure, it should be noted, are disproportionately military veterans who have developed such diseases as mesothelioma and lung cancer after being exposed to asbestos while serving. The WSJ is apparently more concerned about protecting corporate wrongdoers, many of whom continue to make products that contain asbestos despite knowing the harm they can cause.
Moreover, the WSJ's assertion that claimants' sensitive information will be protected is a half-truth at best. In actuality, the FACT Act will require that the last four digits of claimants' social security numbers and some financial information be disclosed on a public website. Coupled with the fact that asbestos companies can demand other private claimant information at will, without divulging vulnerable information of their own, such disclosure could have a chilling impact on perfectly valid claims to the asbestos trusts.
The FACT Act isn't really about ending fraud, and the WSJ knows it. It's about delaying and denying justice to those who have been harmed by huge corporations.