HOUSTON – Attorneys double-dipping from asbestos trusts funds that rightfully belong to affected veterans is unacceptable, according to a former American Legion National commander and sitting judge.
Recently published in the Austin American Statesman with co-author and Texas Coalition of Veteran’s Organizations Chairman Emeritus Morgan Little, Washington County Judge John Brieden reiterated what he composed a week ago in the opinion piece.
“All I am asking is for it to be right and be fair and it’s going to take legislation to prevent the system from being abused,” Brieden said.
Brieden explained that his involvement with the Furthering Asbestos Claims Transparency (FACT) Act, and an American Legion resolution in support of the asbestos claim transparency law, stems from his former leadership role with the legion.
The FACT Act passed in the U.S. House of Representatives in March and awaits action in the U.S. Senate.
“I wrote a resolution for The American Legion voicing support for the FACT Act. When adopted, The American Legion became a dominant voice speaking for veterans on the issue. The day before the house committee hearing, Politico ran an op-ed I penned and it was on the desk of every committee member the morning of the hearing. It passed committee,” he said, adding months later when it calendared for the U.S. House floor, Politico refused to print a revised copy of the op-ed.
“We went to the Hill, who ran it," he said. "A copy was placed on every member’s desk and it passed.”
Brieden said the bill will bring transparency to asbestos claims systems.
“The attorneys involved are making big money, obviously are lobbying and fighting against it like hell. It has been extremely difficult because of the intense lobbying,” Brieden said of said of the “incestuous” sealed, non-disclosable trusts set up and monitored by esquires.
As noted in the recent news report, the judge said last year that 13 state attorneys general filed a civil investigative demand with several national asbestos trusts demanding transparency but all trusts declined.
“The Department of Defense heavily used asbestos in ships and airplanes and tanks up until the '70s," he said.
"It is said one in three people having a problem with asbestos-related illnesses are veterans, so if there is going to be some resolution to this issue veterans need to be at the table.
"What is being paid today is half or less than half of what was being paid 25 years ago because the trusts have been sucked down by these guys going around making these multiple claims, all of which can’t be true."