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Specter backs asbestos compensation fund, liability cap

[JURIST] Incoming Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter [official website], R-PA, announced Wednesday that he is backing a proposed $140 billion fund to compensate asbestos victims and cap the damages liability of the companies targeted in asbestos lawsuits. Labor interests claim the fund is about $9 billion short of the amount needed to adequately compensate victims, but Specter maintains that should the fund run dry, claimants would be able to return to court, a caveat that is disliked by corporate interests seeking finality to the thousands of asbestos suits that have sent many businesses into bankruptcy. Specter's proposal follows similar, but unsuccessful attempts last year to end asbestos litigation, which failed because the competing interests could not reach a compromise. Reuters has more. Senate Judiciary Ranking Democrat Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-VT [official website], is reportedly in talks to join Specter's proposal.

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