Rep. Johnson Fights Bill Denying Access to Courts, Justice for Asbestos Victims

Issues: Consumer Protection, Justice, Civil Liberties, & Government Accountability

House Republicans combined two damaging bills:  1) H.R. 1927, Denying Access to Justice Act (so-called “Fairness in Class Action Litigation Act”), and 2) H.R. 526, Denying Justice to Asbestos Victims Act (so-called “Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act.

Rep. Johnson voted against both bills in Judiciary Committee and continued that fight on the House floor on Jan. 8. Both bills prevent corporations from being held accountable, making it more difficult for victims of corporate wrongdoing to obtain relief.

“What this legislation does is put its ugly hand on the scales of justice in favor of the asbestos manufacturers and their insurance companies,” said Johnson. “I stand with everyday victims, who deserve their day in court.”

Asbestos exposure kills as many as 15,000 Americans each year.  Mesothelioma, asbestosis, and other asbestos-related cancers and diseases are painful, deadly, and expensive.  Thousands of Americans have already been exposed to asbestos in their homes, workplaces, and schools, and thousands more will likely face exposure in the future.

Rep. Johnson also pointed out that class actions are an indispensable tool for individuals to hold powerful interests and big corporations accountable for their misdeeds.

“Without the ability to band together, Americans who have endured grave injuries and egregious wrongs face a David and Goliath struggle for justice,” said Johnson. “Without class actions, the wealthy and powerful can divide and conquer their victims – burying families’ pleas for fair remedy with the sheer weight of their money and resources.”

Johnson joined a broad array of consumer, environmental, labor, public interest, and asbestos victims groups opposed to the bill, including asbestos victims and their families, Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, EWG (Environmental Working Group) Action Fund, the Military Order of the Purple Heart, National Consumers League, National Association of Consumer Advocates, Consumer Watchdog, AFL-CIO, AFSCME, American Association for Justice, Alliance for Justice, and Public Citizen.

SOURCE: http://hankjohnson.house.gov