Asbestos Victims and Families Decry Congressional Push to Run Out the Clock on Compensation

Contact: Alex Formuzis: 202.667.6982 or alex@ewg.org

WASHINGTON, D.C.(May 14, 2015)  – In response to today’s congressional action setting up a likely House vote on a bill designed to delay compensating asbestos victims, several prominent victims’ advocates took lawmakers to task for siding with industry instead of public health.

The Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act, dubbed the Asbestos Death Database Act by opponents of the measure, was written by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and is strongly backed by the asbestos industry. The measure would erect a series of legal roadblocks designed to delay compensating victims for as long as possible. The Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee endorsed the bill today with a party-line vote of 19-9.

“Big Asbestos, once again, saw its Washington influence-peddling pay off big,” said Linda Reinstein, president, CEO and co-founder of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization. “There are more than 12,000 U.S. deaths each year from asbestos-related disease, and this bill does nothing to address that. Instead, it creates new hurdles for victims seeking justice, benefiting the same corporations responsible for causing this national health crisis”

Linda lost her husband Alan in 2006 after he succumbed to mesothelioma. Linda and Alan co-founded ADAO in 2004 in order to prevent future asbestos exposure, eliminate asbestos-related disease and protect victims’ civil rights through education, advocacy and community initiatives.

Sandy Neuenschwander lost her son, Michael Bradley, who died on April 24, 2014 at the age of 29 from a long and painful battle with mesothelioma.

“Michael had his whole life ahead of him,” she said. “We will never get to see him get married, never get to see him experience the miracle of starting his own family, and we’ll never get to hug him again or look into his eyes while he says, ‘Mama, I love you.’”

Sandy added: “No mother, father, spouse, son or daughter should have to watch their loved ones die a horrible and preventable death. Any member of Congress who votes for the legislation is in effect telling these victims and their families that the profits of the asbestos peddlers are more important than the health of their constituents.”

Michele Mikulic, who lost her husband John to Mesothelioma in September of 2013, echoed those sentiments:

“No one should ever have to watch their spouse die from the excruciatingly painful deaths caused by asbestos disease, but that is exactly what I and thousands of other Americans confront each year,” said Mikulic. “People, not big polluter industries, ultimately elect members of Congress, but those who voted in support of this bill clearly think it’s politically better to support asbestos companies over any constituent who has or is dying from asbestos-related disease.”

Ellen Patton, who was herself diagnosed with mesothelioma in June 2001, said, “At the age of 40 and after many years of a bad marriage, I made some major changes in my life. I was so looking forward to a second chance for a happy life! The next year I was blindsided with the diagnosis of bilateral malignant pleural mesothelioma and told to prepare to die. Mesothelioma stole my second chance. Congress could be pushing for legislation that would inform the public about the whereabouts of asbestos or advocating for it to finally be banned. Instead, some of our elected leaders have decided to do the asbestos industry’s bidding by supporting this bill.”

Ellen has focused much of her life since her diagnosis to advocating for all victims of asbestos-related disease.

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Last update: March 06, 2014. 08:41:31 pm.