Asbestos Negotiations Die in U.S. Senate

May 10, 2004

The Senate was unsuccessful in keeping negotiations alive at creating a federally run asbestos trust fund (S. 2290) to compensate victims of asbestos diseases. Talks ended when parties mutually agreed to disagree over how big the fund should be.

S. 2290, the Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act, would have replaced the tort process with an exclusive fund which insurers hoped would put a bottom-line dollar figure on asbestos-related losses and help them reserve accordingly.

David A. Winston, a lobbyist for the National Association of Mutual Insurance Cos., said the negotiations were conducted in good faith. Nonetheless, the sides could not come close to an agreement, making a political outcome unlikely this year. The bill’s proponents did not have the 60 votes necessary to achieve cloture in the Senate and forestall a filibuster.

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