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Bill to Simplify Asbestos Suits Passed by House

Associated Press

Legislation designed to streamline the often-complex lawsuits that building owners bring against manufacturers of asbestos products cleared the House on Tuesday and was sent to the Senate.

The bill, approved 390 to 4, would require manufacturers to tell the Environmental Protection Agency about the types of asbestos products they have made and the years in which they were produced.

Before a building owner could sue to recover asbestos cleanup costs, the owner would have to attempt to match the structure’s asbestos products with information contained in the EPA files in an effort to identify possible manufacturers.

Under current court procedures, people seeking cleanup costs are not required to single out specific manufacturers because of the difficulty of identifying just who made the asbestos products used in a specific building.

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As a result, as many as 50 manufacturers have been listed as defendants, leading to lengthy trials. The House Energy and Commerce Committee said the legislation should reduce the number of defendants by eliminating those who did not manufacture a particular product class in a given year.

Asbestos, long used as an insulating material, has been linked to lung cancer and other respiratory diseases among those inhaling its fibers.


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