Newest Issue - September 2006

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Backing Away from the Abyss

For years, U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter has been pushing a plan for resolving the hundreds of thousands of asbestos-related personal injury lawsuits that continue to plod along in federal and state courts around the country.

And over the years, many experts have agreed with Specter that something must be done to deal with the glut of asbestos lawsuits that has inundated the courts since the first claims were filed in the 1960s. Some have supported the senator’s idea as a way to unburden the courts of the chore of grappling with a seemingly endless stream–if not flood–of asbestos cases.

That idea is to establish a $140 billion privately financed asbestos trust fund. The proposal calls for establishing up to nine categories of payments for people with illnesses caused by contact with asbestos, primarily in the work environment. The highest payouts would be a little more than $1 million. The trust would be administered by the federal government, while funding would come from corporations with asbestos claims pending against them, as well as from their insurance companies.

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