Group launches attack against asbestos trust legislation

An environmental group is fighting back against a Republican-supported bill that claims to reduce fraud in asbestos litigation with a website that parodies the 1990 Warner Bros. film “Goodfellas.”

On their site "Badfellas," the Environmental Working Group Action Fund has replaced the "Goodfellas" cast with Charles Koch, CEO of Koch Industries; Tom Donohue, CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; David Koch, Koch Industries’ executive vice president; and Rep. Blake FarentholdRandolph (Blake) Blake FarentholdThe biggest political upsets of the decade Members spar over sexual harassment training deadline Female Dems see double standard in Klobuchar accusations MORE (R-Texas), who authored the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2015.

The group said its goal is to shed light on the special interests and politicians advocating for legislation that would make it harder for asbestos victims and their families to collect compensation for the asbestos-triggered diseases that kill 12,000 to 15,000 Americans a year. 

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“Unfortunately, the situation being played out by this cast of characters isn’t a movie, but real life with real consequences that could be crushing to asbestos victims and their families,” Alex Formuzis of EWG Action Fund said in a news release. “To protect the rights of innocent asbestos victims, we have to make sure that this different kind of disaster film never has its premiere.”

The bill, which was approved by the Judiciary Committee in May and has been introduced in the Senate, would require asbestos trusts, which were set up to compensate workers and family members injured by a company’s manufacturing of asbestos, to file quarterly reports on their public bankruptcy dockets that include information on demands for payments and the basis for payments made.

Lawmakers who support the legislation say it would protect these finite trusts from paying out money for fraudulent or inflated claims, but the EWG Action Fund claims it will only create legal roadblocks to delay victims the compensation they deserve.