Dec 1, 2003
Congress is considering setting up a trust fund for workers who have been exposed to asbestos. Asbestos is made of very tiny fibers, which can float in the air and be taken into a person's lungs. The human body cannot break down the fibers, so exposure to asbestos can cause a variety of diseases, including cancer and asbestosis, a scarring of the lungs that makes it hard to breathe.
One lawyer representing asbestos victims said, "Science knew about the dangers going back to the '30s and '40s, and businesses didn't even put warning labels on their products until the '70s. The amount of deceit and the amount of misconduct, gross negligence, is staggering."
It's not out of any consideration for the victims of this criminally murderous conduct that Congress is acting now to set up the trust fund. No – it's to protect the corporations who used asbestos in their production long after its hazards were known.
Under the proposed bills, the corporations and their insurance companies would have to pay into the trust fund. But the amount they would have to pay is much less than what they could lose in a court suit. In recent years, juries have awarded asbestos victims and their families over 10 million dollars from their employers. One of the bills being considered would set up a fund that could pay no more than $180,000 to a victim.
Ten million can't compensate for the loss of life or a lifetime of pain and inability to work! Nothing can. But the fact that the government will set $180,000 as the limit shows that once again, Congress sides with the criminal and not the victim.