Q: What is AB 1056, The Transparency in Claims Act?
A: AB 1056 protects the rights of those harmed by exposure to asbestos and related products, while bringing transparency to double-dipping and inconsistent claims between trusts and courts.
Q: Why do we need AB 1056?
A: A recent California Supreme Court ruling has increased the pool of people able to seek compensation for asbestos exposure. At the same time more and more cases are being filed in California that game the claims and overburdened court systems. They are draining finite resources from future victims, and without transparency, they could be left with nothing.
Q: How will AB 1056 stop people from gaming California’s system?
A: Some people and lawyers deliberately misrepresent facts and abuse confidentiality trust rules by filing two claims for every injury. This allows them to garner larger fees by claiming in each suit that it was the only time and place their client was exposed to asbestos. AB 1056 will require transparency and accountability in an effort to make it more difficult for bad actors to intentionally assert inconsistent exposure or medical allegations across various trusts and tort defendants. In one bankruptcy case, a judge found that in a sampling of cases, every claim was in some way inconsistent or misleading.
Q: Opponents say AB 1056 will delay litigation for asbestos victims.
A: AB 1056 will not delay trial dates for victims of asbestos exposure, so long as plaintiff lawyers are transparent about bankruptcy claims and claim filings. This bill simply requires lawyers to provide information known to them about current and future trust claims.
Q: How will AB 1056 protect future victims?
A: AB 1056 protects future victims of asbestos exposure by ensuring funds are available to all victims, not lawyers who game the system to garner larger fees. Protecting asbestos trust funds will help ensure rightful compensation resources are not drained for future victims of asbestos exposure, and will create transparency within the system that stops double-dipping trial lawyers from gaming the system.
Q: Without reform, will compensation for future claimants be reduced?
A: According to Mealey’s Asbestos Bankruptcy Report, asbestos bankruptcy trust funds are intended to pay initial and future claims in equitable manners going into the future. It concludes that the risk of premature insolvency of trusts necessitates a “greater level of trust operational transparency.”
Q: Does AB 1056 reduce payouts for victims of asbestos?
A: No, AB 1056 does not preclude any people with asbestos related claims from receiving “full value” on an asbestos claim. In fact, creating a more transparent system will disallow double-dipping lawyers from draining precious compensation resources that rightfully belong to future people with exposure related claims.
Q: How will AB 1056 protect veterans?
A: Many of those harmed by asbestos are veterans. California is home to roughly 2 million veterans, more than any other state in the nation. If asbestos trust funds are depleted, our veterans will suffer the most. That’s why AB 1056 is supported by multiple veteran’s groups, including the American G.I. Forum of California, the AMVETS – Department of California, the American Legion – Department of California, the California Association of County Veteran Service Officers, the Military Officers Association – California Council of Chapters, the Jewish War Veterans – Department of California, and the Reserved Officers Association of the Golden West.