The South Carolina Civil Justice Coalition (SCCJC) recently joined supporters of the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2015, which aims to promote transparency and prevent “double dipping.”
The legal system currently does not have access to information regarding asbestos trusts and who is receiving awards from asbestos claims. Supporters of the FACT Act contend many people are manipulating the system.
Claimants and their attorneys alike find ways to file multiple claims, which is unfair for others who are still anticipating support for their own legitimate claims, Earl Hunter, executive director of SCCJC, told Palmetto Business Daily.
Hunter explained that the FACT Act would require quarterly reports of claims so there are records tracking who is filing, while making sure there are not multiple payouts going to the same person. The act supports those who have legitimate claims in the present and in the future.
Hunter explained that those who are truly affected by working with asbestos will always have support, but it is possible that they could receive less in the future due to fraudulent claims.
The SCCJC wants transparency, as well as fairness for those who need it most, while also making sure those who want to manipulate the system are less likely to succeed.
“No one should be barred from obtaining factual information,” Hunter said.
Since more awareness is being raised about fraudulent claims, there has been “a lot of sunshine” on the issue, Hunter said. This new light has decreased the number of fraudulent claims, and the act will further increase transparency because it offers the system factual information on who has and who has not already filed, as well as stress the illegal nature of manipulating this system.
Creating a law may be the only way to keep some lawyers and their claimants honest, supporters say. Recently it has been found that “Plaintiffs’ attorneys are withholding and manipulating information on their clients’ trust claims in order to increase tort settlements. Media investigations and litigation also have exposed inconsistent, illogical and fraudulent claims against asbestos trusts, including claims alleging occupational exposures during childhood and claims filed on behalf of fictitious individuals, Hunter said.
“There are good lawyers who are trying to do the right thing, but there are a few who make the rest look bad," Hunter said.
The SCCJC supports the state’s business community on tort and workers’ compensation issues. The coalition coordinates lobbying, legal, grassroots and public relations activities to better serve businesses in South Carolina.
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