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Legislation could alter the structure of asbestos trust payments

People who have developed mesothelioma or another serious lung disease as a result of exposure to asbestos know that it can be a long road toward getting compensation -- and in some cases, satisfaction may not come until after the ill person has passed away. That's why it is all the more frustrating when there are accusations that money set aside for victims of asbestos exposure is not being adequately safeguarded.

There are more than three dozen bankruptcy trusts that were set up to pay money to people affected by products the company was responsible for. They were put into place to allow people to be compensated and permit the companies to still operate. However, there are rumblings in Congress to have more oversight over the trusts because some people think there is too much fraud in the system.

One measure that is being considered by a House committee would require trusts to author reports every quarter detailing who had made claims and what they had been paid. However, people who oppose the idea say that this would unnecessarily release confidential health information of people who have suffered enough.

It is also unclear if the fraud that some people think exists within the trusts is real or at least exaggerated. Some have suggested that various claims are false because the dates listed for exposure would not be possible. However, one person close to the situation said that it was likely not due to fraud but merely data entry errors -- meaning some of the so-called anomalies are due to human error rather than deliberate fraud.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Panel Weighs Asbestos-Trust Rules," Dionne Searcy, March 13, 2013

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