Senator Arlen Specter’s Asbestos Trust Fund Bill.May 2005 – – The FAIR Act of 2005 (S. 852/H.R.1360) is a national asbestos lawsuit settlement bill co-sponsored by Republican Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Democrat Patrick Leahy of Vermont. The bill will take asbestos victims claims out of the court system and force them into a federal trust fund. The $140 billion national settlement is being structured to end asbestos litigation. Without a national settlement, victims of asbestos exposure face dwindling legal options. Most cannot sue in their own state’s courts because illness caused by asbestos exposure may not show up for decades and state laws often require a person exposed to a toxic substance to sue within a few years of exposure. Although rare, some unfamiliar with the trust fund bill may mistakenly refer to it as the Eagle Picher asbestos trust or Johns Manville asbestos trust.The proposal includes some important improvements such as increases in award levels for victims of some disease categories of (asbestos. Workers compensation) and a bar against any liens on these funds is also addressed.The Committee to Protect Mesothelioma Victims (CPMV) and the AFL-CIO oppose the bill. They believe the bill has a number of serious deficiencies that must be corrected despite recent changes that came as a result of stakeholder negotiations on the bill. Proponents and opponents support the establishment of a federal asbestos trust fund to compensate asbestos victims for their injuries through a no-fault system to replace the present civil litigation system. It is the level of funding in the bill that is in dispute. The AFL-CIO believes the fund would go broke before it can be distributed to all workers. Compensation asbestos groups on both sides, however, agree that federal legislation is necessary to deal with the high volume of litigation stemming from asbestos disease across the country.According to opponents, the bill has a number of serious deficiencies that must be corrected. These include:The elimination of compensation for a large group of lung cancer victims without allowing these individuals to document asbestos exposure through CT scans.The absence of remedies for victims during the startup period before the Fund is able to pay claims.In addition, there are a set of issues, such as the statute of limitations, preemption and the treatment of claims if the Fund sunsets, that will determine whether the compensation system works as intended for deserving claimants. In 1979, lawmakers tried to correct the contradiction, but courts ruled that asbestos exception only applies to workers exposed after the law passed. By 1979, most workplaces had stopped using asbestos products.Some conservatives’ believe the $140 billion “Asbestos Trust Fund” will simply grow government, raise taxes, and line the pockets of trial lawyers under the guise that it will help victims of asbestos related illness.