Americans for Tax Reform president efforts of Senate Judiciary Committee and stress need to strengthen the legislation.

WASHINGTON – Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) President Grover Norquist submitted written testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee today on S. 1125, the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act of 2003, or the FAIR Act and reiterated the need for common sense reforms regarding asbestos litigation.

Since 1982, a number of state supreme courts ruled that companies were liable for asbestos-related injuries, regardless of whether the company understood asbestos\’ dangers. As a result of these new court decisions, the number of asbestos lawsuits skyrocketed against companies using asbestos to produce a final good, such as insulation, and companies that merely exposed workers to products containing asbestos, such as automobile brakes and clutches. As such, nearly 94 percent of these cases involve individuals who have not developed any type of cancer or asbestos-related disability.

"Under the leadership of Senator Hatch, the Senate Judiciary Committee has followed the US Supreme Court\’s advice and begun the process to enact common sense reforms that ensure that juries award money to those who are legitimate victims and keep money out of the hands of the trial lawyers," said Grover Norquist, President of ATR. "Only with meaningful reform can legitimate victims receive their just compensation without harming productive companies, working American families, and innocent stockholders, which is currently the case."

While ATR applauds the introduction of this much needed legislation, it must be viewed as a work in progress. Additional safeguards must be included, and there must be absolute guarantees that any Asbestos Injury Claims Resolution Fund created by the bill will not be funded by American taxpayers.

In addition, ATR continues to have serious concerns regarding asbestos litigations and believes that enactment of any legislation should include the following four principles: Establishing objective medical criteria to determine asbestos-related impairment; Liberalizing the statue of limitation to remove the incentive for premature filings; Eliminating the consolidation of asbestos related claims and instead require individual trials that will focus on the facts of each specific case; and Requiring lawsuits to be filed in the states where the plaintiff resides or where exposure occurred.