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Judiciary committee authorizes asbestos subpoena power

[JURIST] The US Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] on Thursday voted unanimously to allow high ranking members within the group to subpoena certain information from companies sued over asbestos claims. Committee leaders Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) [official website] and the ranking Democrat on the panel, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) [official website], have been asking for more data from the industry for months; data companies are reluctant to discuss the issue over fears it could make them susceptible to more lawsuits. Specter and Leahy, co-sponsors of legislation creating a $140 billion fund for asbestos victims [JURIST report], want to know how much companies would expect to contribute to the privately-financed fund. The bill was passed by the judiciary panel in May 2005 and Specter has called for a Senate vote [JURIST report] in October. Reuters has more.

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