Text: H.R.1114 — 108th Congress (2003-2004)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (03/06/2003)

 
[Congressional Bills 108th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Printing Office]
[H.R. 1114 Introduced in House (IH)]







108th CONGRESS
  1st Session
                                H. R. 1114

   To establish legal standards and procedures for the fair, prompt, 
inexpensive, and efficient resolution of personal injury claims arising 
           out of asbestos exposure, and for other purposes.


_______________________________________________________________________


                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

                             March 6, 2003

   Mr. Kirk (for himself, Mr. Hyde, Mrs. Johnson of Connecticut, Mr. 
Portman, Mr. Shays, Mr. Burr, Mr. Mica, Mr. McCotter, Mr. Gillmor, Mr. 
    Shimkus, Mr. Tiberi, Ms. Ginny Brown-Waite of Florida, Ms. Ros-
   Lehtinen, Mr. Foley, Mr. Baker, Mr. Kennedy of Rhode Island, Mr. 
Doolittle, Mr. Castle, and Mr. McCrery) introduced the following bill; 
          which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 A BILL


 
   To establish legal standards and procedures for the fair, prompt, 
inexpensive, and efficient resolution of personal injury claims arising 
           out of asbestos exposure, and for other purposes.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE; TABLE OF CONTENTS.

    (a) Short Title.--This Act may be cited as the ``Asbestos 
Compensation Act of 2003''.
    (b) Table of Contents.--The table of contents of this Act is as 
follows:

Sec. 1. Short title; table of contents.
                  TITLE I--ESTABLISHMENT AND PROCEDURE

Sec. 101. Establishment of the Office of Asbestos Compensation.
Sec. 102. Medical eligibility review.
Sec. 103. Election of administrative process; settlement offers.
Sec. 104. Claimant's choice of forum.
Sec. 105. Administrative adjudication.
Sec. 106. Appeals; judicial review.
Sec. 107. Gathering and maintenance of information.
Sec. 108. Legal assistance program.
Sec. 109. Time limits for dispositions.
           TITLE II--LAW APPLICABLE TO ASBESTOS ADJUDICATIONS

Sec. 201. Medical eligibility.
Sec. 202. Damages.
Sec. 203. Statute of limitations or repose.
Sec. 204. Come back rights.
Sec. 205. Class actions, aggregations of claims and venue.
Sec. 206. Joint and several liability.
Sec. 207. Core claims.
Sec. 208. Special rules applicable to section 105 adjudications.
Sec. 209. Special rules applicable to the trustee.
                 TITLE III--ELIGIBLE MEDICAL CATEGORIES

Sec. 301. Eligible medical categories.
Sec. 302. Asbestos-related non-malignant conditions with impairment.
Sec. 303. Asbestos-related mesothelioma.
Sec. 304. Asbestos-related lung cancer.
Sec. 305. Asbestos-related other cancer.
Sec. 306. Medical testing reimbursement.
                           TITLE IV--FUNDING

Sec. 401. Assessment and enforcement.
Sec. 402. Fiscal and financial management of the asbestos compensation 
                            fund.
Sec. 403. Authorization for appropriations and offsetting collections.
                          TITLE V--TRANSITION

Sec. 501. Applicability; transitional civil actions.
                         TITLE VI--DEFINITIONS

Sec. 601. Definitions.
                  TITLE VII--MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

Sec. 701. Relationship to other laws.
Sec. 702. Annual reports.
Sec. 703. Enforcement.
Sec. 704. Qualifying National Settlement Plan.
Sec. 705. Severability.
Sec. 706. Settlements.

                  TITLE I--ESTABLISHMENT AND PROCEDURE

SEC. 101. ESTABLISHMENT OF THE OFFICE OF ASBESTOS COMPENSATION.

    (a) Establishment of Program; Administrator.--There is established 
in the Department of Justice the Office of Asbestos Compensation (OAC) 
to be headed by an Administrator. The Administrator shall be appointed 
by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. The 
Administrator shall serve for a term of 10 years, and may be removed by 
the Attorney General only for good cause. The Administrator shall have 
authority to promulgate all procedural and substantive rules necessary 
to administer this Act. All claims and other filings under this Act 
shall be lodged with the office designated by the Administrator.
    (b) Exclusive Jurisdiction.--Except as otherwise provided in this 
Act, the OAC shall have exclusive jurisdiction over proceedings to 
determine if a claimant is entitled to compensation for an asbestos 
claim and the amount of such compensation. The foregoing shall not 
apply to any claim brought under any workers' compensation law or 
veterans' benefits program.
    (c) Medical Director.--The Administrator shall appoint the Medical 
Director and may remove the Medical Director for good cause. The 
Medical Director shall, under the supervision of the Administrator, 
manage the medical review process under section 102 and shall have the 
authority to appoint or to contract for the services of claims 
examiners, physicians, and such other personnel as may be necessary or 
appropriate for the efficient conduct of the medical review process and 
to create the exceptional medical claims panel.
    (d) Asbestos Compensation Fund.--There is established in the OAC an 
Asbestos Compensation Fund for the purpose of providing payments to 
claimants under this Act. The Administrator shall appoint the Trustee 
of the Asbestos Compensation Fund and may remove the Trustee for good 
cause.
    (e) Office of Administrative Law Judges.--There is established in 
the OAC an Office of Administrative Law Judges for the purpose of 
providing expedited administrative adjudication of asbestos claims 
pursuant to section 105. The Administrator shall have authority to 
appoint Administrative Law Judges on a temporary or emergency basis and 
to remove such judges for good cause.
    (f) Medical Advisory Committee.--The Administrator shall appoint a 
Medical Advisory Committee which shall periodically evaluate this Act's 
medical review process and medical eligibility criteria. The 
Administrator shall set a term of appointment for members of the 
Medical Advisory Committee. The Committee shall make appropriate 
recommendations as and when it deems appropriate and shall submit an 
annual report to the Administrator and the Congress.

SEC. 102. MEDICAL ELIGIBILITY REVIEW.

    (a) Determination of Eligibility.--All claims when filed shall be 
immediately referred to the Medical Director. The Medical Director 
shall determine whether the claimant meets the requirements for medical 
eligibility in section 301 or the requirements for medical testing 
reimbursement in section 306.
    (b) Information for Medical Review.--The Administrator shall issue 
rules for the expeditious conduct of the medical review process. Such 
rules at a minimum shall provide for the following:
            (1) Submission of the following information where relevant 
        and feasible: smoking history; occupational history; 
        description of the circumstances, intensity, time, and duration 
        of exposure; medical test results necessary for a decision as 
        to whether an exposed person meets the requirements for one or 
        more medically eligible categories under sections 301, 302, 
        303, 304, 305, or 306, including all of the supporting data for 
        any pulmonary function tests on which the claimant relies 
        (including all flow volume loops, spirographs, and any other 
        tracings for any test that is performed). The claimant shall 
        also provide such medical releases as the Administrator may 
        require allowing the OAC to obtain any and all medical 
        information relevant to the determination of medical 
        eligibility.
            (2) The Medical Director may require additional non-
        invasive medical tests at the expense of the OAC if necessary 
        for a determination of medical eligibility.
    (c) Procedures.--Upon receipt of a complete medical application, 
the Medical Director shall send notice to the claimant confirming the 
OAC's receipt of the claim. The Medical Director shall make an initial 
decision within 30 days of such receipt. If the application is 
initially denied, the claimant shall be so notified and, at the 
claimant's request, the application shall be immediately referred to--
            (1) a review panel of 2 qualified physicians, with a third 
        qualified physician available to resolve any disagreement 
        between the initial 2 qualified physicians; or
            (2) an exceptional medical claims panel.
The Medical Director shall be bound by a panel's decision. The rules 
shall also provide for the prioritization of claims, including enhanced 
priority for claimants who have mesothelioma, and set a time limit for 
a determination by the review panel.
    (d) Exceptional Medical Claims.--The rules of the medical review 
process shall provide the claimant with an opportunity to apply to an 
exceptional medical claims panel for a determination of whether the 
exposed person meets the requirements under section 301(b) for an 
exceptional medical claim for any category. This opportunity shall be 
provided both at the initial filing of a claim and after a claim has 
been denied under this subsection. The exceptional medical claims panel 
shall decide whether the claimant qualifies as an exceptional medical 
claim within 30 days of receipt of the claim. This time limit may be 
extended by the Administrator only for good cause. The Medical Director 
shall be bound by the decision of the exceptional medical claims panel. 
The Medical Director shall issue a final denial, along with a brief 
statement of reasons, if the claimant is found ineligible following an 
opportunity to submit the claim to a medical review panel and an 
exceptional medical claims panel.
    (e) Monitoring Accuracy of Determinations.--The Medical Director 
shall establish audit and personnel review procedures for evaluating 
the accuracy of medical eligibility determinations, including both 
erroneous approvals and erroneous denials.
    (f) Opt-Out.--After receiving a certificate of eligibility, a 
claimant may opt out of settlement proceedings provided for under 
sections 103 and 104 and elect to file suit in any State or Federal 
court of competent jurisdiction.

SEC. 103. ELECTION OF ADMINISTRATIVE PROCESS; SETTLEMENT OFFERS.

    (a) Naming and Notification of Defendants.--Medically eligible 
claimants, other than those who elect to file suit in court under 
section 102(f), shall name defendants. Defendants shall receive notice 
from the Administrator.
            (1) Identification of defendants associated with work 
        sites.--At the claimant's request, the Administrator will 
        provide information concerning person who may have provided 
        asbestos or asbestos-containing products or materials to work 
        sites named by the claimant and when such asbestos or asbestos-
        containing products or materials may have been provided as well 
        as the time such products or materials were located at the 
        named work sites. The Administrator may implement this 
        paragraph through rulemaking.
            (2) Verified particularized statement.--Within such time 
        after receiving a certificate of medical eligibility as may be 
        provided by rule, a claimant shall provide, with respect to 
        each person that the claimant alleges is responsible for the 
        injury claimed, a verified particularized statement of the 
        basis for the allegation that the person is or may be 
        responsible for the injury. The particularized statement shall 
        include such information as the Administrator may require for 
        the purpose of providing the defendant with a reasonable basis 
        for making an offer of settlement. The claimant may incorporate 
        by reference any information required by this paragraph that 
        may already have been submitted to the OAC.
            (3) Notice.--Upon finding that the claimant's 
        particularized statement meets the requirements of paragraph 
        (2), the Administrator shall provide notice to each named 
        defendant. The defendant shall at the same time be furnished 
        with a copy of all particularized statements submitted by the 
        claimant under paragraph (2) and, subject to reasonable rules 
        protecting the confidentiality of information provided by the 
        claimant, a copy of all information submitted by the claimant, 
        records and other information obtained by the Medical Director 
        relating to the claim and the results of any medical tests 
        administered at the direction of the Medical Director. Any 
        defendant may provide any information relevant to the amount of 
        any recommended settlement under subsection (b), including 
        information regarding product identification, exposure, and 
        damages.
            (4) Third-party practice.--Defendants may assert third-
        party claims in accordance with rules adopted by the 
        Administrator. Third-party claimants shall provide a verified 
        particularized statement, meeting the requirements of paragraph 
        (2), substantiating the allegation that the third-party 
        defendant may be liable to the third-party plaintiff, wholly or 
        in part, for the claimant's injury. For good cause shown and 
        subject to reasonable limitations, an Administrative Law Judge 
        may allow discovery for the purpose of obtaining information 
        necessary to allow the claimant or any third-party plaintiff to 
        provide a particularized statement under paragraph (2) or this 
        paragraph.
    (b) Settlement Offers; Offer of Compensation by the Trustee.--
            (1) Mandatory offer from defendants.--Within 21 days 
        following the naming of all defendants, each defendant shall 
        provide to the claimant in writing a good faith settlement 
        offer, and shall provide a copy to the Trustee.
            (2) Mandatory offer from asbestos compensation fund.--
        Within 10 days of receiving all of the defendants' offers, the 
        Trustee shall make an offer of compensation to the claimant, 
        based on a compensation grid which shall be established and 
        regularly revised by rule.

SEC. 104. CLAIMANT'S CHOICE OF FORUM.

    (a) In General.--The claimant shall notify each defendant and the 
Trustee whether the claimant accepts or rejects the defendant's 
settlement offer under section 103(b)(1). If the claimant accepts any 
such offer, or any other settlement offer, the Trustee's offer of 
compensation shall be automatically reduced by the amount of such 
settlements.
    (b) Notice.--The claimant shall notify the Trustee and any 
defendant within 60 days whether the claimant accepts or rejects an 
offer that has been provided pursuant to section 103(b)(1) or 
103(b)(2).
    (c) Orphan Shares.--The Trustee shall not make an offer to the 
claimant under section 103(b) if no solvent defendant has been named.
    (d) Acceptance.--If the claimant accepts the Trustee's offer of 
compensation, the Trustee shall assume the claim. The Trustee may 
accept any defendant's settlement offer under section 103(b)(1) or may 
prosecute the claim against any defendant as provided in section 105, 
or may prosecute the claim in any State or Federal court.
    (e) Rejection.--If the claimant rejects any defendant's settlement 
offer and also rejects the Trustee's offer of compensation, the 
claimant may elect an administrative adjudication under section 105 or 
opt out of further administrative proceedings and file suit in a State 
or Federal court.

SEC. 105. ADMINISTRATIVE ADJUDICATION.

    If a claimant elects adjudication under this section, the OAC shall 
assign an Administrative Law Judge to conduct a hearing on the record 
and to determine whether compensation is to be provided and the amount 
of such compensation. The Administrative Law Judge shall adhere to the 
law applicable to asbestos adjudications as contained in sections 201 
through 210. The Administrative Law Judge shall issue a decision, 
containing findings of fact and conclusions of law, as expeditiously as 
possible, but not later than 90 days after the case is assigned.

SEC. 106. APPEALS; JUDICIAL REVIEW.

    Any person aggrieved by a final decision of the Administrator under 
section 105 or a final denial by the Medical Director under section 
102, may seek review of that decision or denial in the United States 
Court of Federal Claims, which shall uphold the decision or denial if 
it is supported by substantial evidence and is not contrary to law. A 
decision by the Medical Director that a claimant has an eligible 
medical condition is not a final decision under this section. Decisions 
of the United States Court of Federal Claims are appealable, without 
regard to the amount in controversy or the citizenship of the parties, 
to a United States Court of Appeals for a judicial circuit.

SEC. 107. GATHERING AND MAINTENANCE OF INFORMATION.

    (a) Product Identification.--The OAC shall collect and regularly 
update information regarding product identification and shall make such 
information publicly available. The data base maintained by the OAC 
under this section is for information purposes only, and the presence 
of information in that database shall not lead to any presumption.
    (b) Settlements, Judgments, and Awards.--The OAC shall collect data 
on settlements, judgments, and awards in connection with asbestos 
claims and shall make such data publicly available. The OAC may require 
this data to be reported in such form as it may prescribe.
    (c) Subpoena Power.--The OAC may compel, by subpoena or other 
appropriate process, information from any person regarding past 
settlements or product identification for purposes of developing and 
maintaining a compensation grid under section 103(b)(2) and maintaining 
a database for purposes of naming defendants under section 103(a)(1). 
In addition, the subpoena power under this subsection may be used by 
the OAC in order to secure financial information from any defendant.
    (d) Confidentiality.--Any information or documentary material 
concerning settlements which is specific to a company, law firm, or 
plaintiff that is provided to the OAC pursuant to subsection (b) or 
(c), whether by subpoena or otherwise, shall be exempt from disclosure 
under section 552 of title 5, United States Code, and the disclosure of 
such information by the OAC or any person is prohibited.

SEC. 108. LEGAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAM.

    (a) In General.--The OAC shall implement a legal assistance program 
for the purpose of providing legal representation to claimants. The OAC 
shall maintain a roster of qualified counsel who agree to provide 
services to claimants under rules, practices, and procedures 
established by the Administrator.
    (b) Free Choice of Counsel.--Claimants shall not be required to use 
counsel provided or recommended by the OAC, but shall retain their 
right to be assisted by counsel of their choice.
    (c) Legal Assistance.--The OAC shall adopt rules concerning the 
reasonableness of fees, and all legal representation of persons 
asserting asbestos claims shall comply with such rules.

SEC. 109. TIME LIMITS FOR DISPOSITIONS.

    (a) In General.--If the Medical Director fails to meet the time 
limits for an initial decision provided under this Act with respect to 
more than 30 percent of claims, then the Administrator shall take such 
action as may be necessary, including increasing staff and 
administrative assessments under section 401, to ensure compliance with 
such time limit with regard to at least 70 percent of claims.
    (b) No Offer.--If the Trustee fails to make an offer within 120 
days after the Administrator's receipt of a complete application under 
section 102 with respect to more than 30 percent of claims, then the 
Administrator shall take such action as may be necessary, including 
increasing staff and administrative assessments under section 401, to 
ensure compliance with such time limit with regard to at least 70 
percent of claims.
    (c) Duties.--The duties established by subsections (a) and (b) 
shall be non-discretionary and enforceable by an order of mandamus from 
any judge of the United States Court of Federal Claims.
    (d) Exceptions.--The Administrator may by rule establish exceptions 
to the time limits in this section. Such rules shall take into 
consideration the complexity of the case, the extent to which delays 
are attributable to the fault or neglect of the claimant or the 
claimant's attorney and other factors that are beyond the control of 
the OAC.

           TITLE II--LAW APPLICABLE TO ASBESTOS ADJUDICATIONS

SEC. 201. MEDICAL ELIGIBILITY.

    A claimant may recover compensation for damages caused by an 
eligible medical condition only if the claimant presents a certificate 
of medical eligibility establishing its existence. A certificate of 
medical eligibility shall be conclusive unless rebutted by clear and 
convincing evidence. However, a certificate of medical eligibility 
shall not be conclusive as to allegations regarding exposure to 
asbestos or when medical eligibility is established pursuant to section 
304(b).

SEC. 202. DAMAGES.

    A claimant who establishes an eligible medical condition shall be 
entitled to compensatory damages to the extent provided by applicable 
law, including damages for emotional distress, pain and suffering, and 
medical monitoring where authorized. Such damages shall not include 
punitive damages or damages solely for enhanced risk of a future 
condition, except as provided in section 208(d).

SEC. 203. STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS OR REPOSE.

    No defense to an asbestos claim based on a statute of limitations 
or statute of repose, laches, or any other defense based on the 
timeliness of the claim shall be recognized or allowed, unless such 
claim was untimely as of the date of enactment of this Act. No claim 
shall be deemed to have accrued until and unless the claimant's 
condition would have qualified as an eligible medical condition under 
section 302, 303, 304, or 305.

SEC. 204. COME BACK RIGHTS.

    Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a judgment or 
settlement of an asbestos claim for a non-malignant disease shall not 
preclude a subsequent claim with respect to the same exposed person for 
an eligible medical condition pursuant to section 301(b), 303, 304, or 
305.

SEC. 205. CLASS ACTIONS, AGGREGATIONS OF CLAIMS AND VENUE.

    (a) Consolidations.--No joinder of parties, aggregation of claims, 
consolidation of actions, extrapolation, or other device to determine 
multiple asbestos claims on a collective basis shall be permitted 
without the consent of all parties, except as provided in subsection 
(b) or unless the court, pursuant to an exercise of judicial authority 
to promote the just and efficient conduct of asbestos civil actions, 
orders such procedures, including the transfer for consolidation, to 
determine multiple asbestos claims on a collective basis.
    (b) Class Action Suits.--In any civil action asserting an asbestos 
claim, a class action may be allowed without the consent of all parties 
if the requirements of Rule 23, Federal Rules of Civil Procedure are 
satisfied.
    (c) Venue.--At the election of the claimant, an asbestos claim may 
be filed in any jurisdiction where the claimant is alleging that the 
claimant was exposed to asbestos or where the claimant is currently 
domiciled.
    (d) Removal.--Any party in a civil action that involves a violation 
of subsection (a), (b) or (c) of this section may remove such action to 
an appropriate district court of the United States. The district courts 
of the United States shall have jurisdiction of all civil actions 
removed pursuant to this section without regard to diversity of 
citizenship or amount in controversy.
    (e) Administrative Proceedings.--In any proceeding under section 
105, the Administrative Law Judge may order adjudication of claims on a 
collective basis.

SEC. 206. JOINT AND SEVERAL LIABILITY.

    This Act shall not be construed to limit joint and several 
liability under applicable Federal or State law. In any core claim that 
is successfully asserted against a defendant, such defendant shall be 
held jointly and severally liable for full compensatory damages to the 
claimant notwithstanding any contrary provision of law.

SEC. 207. CORE CLAIMS.

    In any core claim, the issues to be decided shall be limited to--
            (1) whether the exposed person with respect to whom a claim 
        is made has or had an eligible medical condition;
            (2) whether the exposure of the exposed person to the 
        product of the defendant was a substantial contributing factor 
        in causing that eligible medical condition; and
            (3) the amount of compensation to be provided.

SEC. 208. SPECIAL RULES APPLICABLE TO SECTION 105 ADJUDICATIONS.

    (a) Applicable Law.--Unless otherwise provided in this Act, in 
claims based on State law, the Administrative Law Judge shall, with 
respect to each defendant, apply the substantive law of the State which 
has the most significant relationship to the exposure and the parties.
    (b) Full Compensatory Damages in Wrongful Death Cases.--
Notwithstanding any contrary provision of State law, full compensatory 
damages, including damages for non-economic loss, shall be awarded in 
wrongful death claims involving mesothelima. In all other cases, 
damages for non-economic loss may be awarded to the extent that they 
are available pursuant to applicable law.
    (c) Penalty for Inadequate Offer.--In any proceeding against a 
defendant by a claimant under section 105, and in any proceeding by the 
Trustee, if the final offer made by any defendant is less than the 
share of the total liability awarded against that defendant, a penalty 
shall be added to the award equal to 100 percent of the difference 
between the defendant's settlement offer under section 103(b) and the 
lesser of--
            (1) the defendant's share of the offer made by the Trustee 
        under section 103(b); or
            (2) the defendant's share of the award made under section 
        105.
    (d) Punitive Damages.--Punitive damages may be awarded against a 
defendant if the claimant establishes by clear and convincing evidence 
that the conduct carried out by the defendant with a conscious, 
flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of others was the 
proximate cause of the harm that is the subject of the asbestos claim. 
Punitive damages may not exceed 3 times the amount of the award 
pursuant to a section 105 adjudication plus any penalties added to that 
award pursuant to subsection (c).

SEC. 209. SPECIAL RULES APPLICABLE TO THE TRUSTEE.

    In an action by the Trustee as assignee of the claimant, the award 
under section 104(d) shall include compensatory damages for the 
claimant's injury and all punitive damages under section 208(d), any 
penalties for inadequate offers by defendants, and the Trustee's costs 
in establishing the claim, including reasonable attorneys' fees and 
expenses and an allowance for interest on the amount paid by the Fund 
to the claimant under section 104. Interest shall be calculated from 
the time of such payments, and in accordance with Title IV. All 
economic and non-economic damages recovered by the Fund in excess of 
200 percent of the amount paid to the claimant pursuant to section 104 
and all punitive damages under section 208(d) shall be paid to the 
settling claimant. The fact that the claimant has accepted an offer of 
compensation by the Trustee, and the amount and terms of such offer, 
shall not be admissible in any adjudication of a claim brought by the 
Trustee against any defendant.

                 TITLE III--ELIGIBLE MEDICAL CATEGORIES

SEC. 301. ELIGIBLE MEDICAL CATEGORIES.

    (a) In General.--The eligible medical categories under this Act are 
asbestos-related non-malignant conditions with impairment, asbestos-
related mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, and asbestos-
related other cancer.
    (b) Establishing Existence.--A claimant may establish the existence 
of an eligible medical condition either by demonstrating that the 
exposed person meets the standard criteria provided in sections 302, 
303, 304, and 305 or by demonstrating to an exceptional medical claims 
panel, through reliable evidence, that the exposed person has an 
asbestos-related impairment that is substantially comparable to the 
condition of an exposed person who would satisfy the requirements of a 
given medical category. The Administrator, after consultation with the 
Medical Advisory Committee, may adopt rules consistent with this 
section to assure consistency and efficiency in the designation of 
claims as exceptional medical claims.

SEC. 302. ASBESTOS-RELATED NON-MALIGNANT CONDITIONS WITH IMPAIRMENT.

    (a) In General.--The standard criteria for asbestos-related non-
malignant conditions with impairment shall include--
            (1) clinical evidence of asbestosis,
            (2) pathological evidence of asbestosis, or
            (3) evidence of bilateral pleural thickening with 
        impairment.
    (b) Obstructive Lung Disease.--A claimant shall not be disqualified 
from compensation under this category solely because an exposed person 
who otherwise meets the requirements for impairment has a reduced FEV1/
FVC ratio indicating obstructive lung disease. In that event, the 
exceptional medical claims panel shall determine, giving due regard to 
the evidence that any impairment is related to obstructive disease and 
taking into consideration all available evidence, whether an asbestos-
related restrictive disease substantially contributes to the impairment 
of the exposed person. Such a contribution shall be presumed if the 
panel concludes, based upon the findings of a certified B-reader, that 
the exposed person's chest x-ray is ILO Grade 2/1 or more.

SEC. 303. ASBESTOS-RELATED MESOTHELIOMA.

    The standard criteria for asbestos-related mesothelioma shall 
include a diagnosis by a qualified physician of a malignant 
mesothelioma caused or contributed to by exposure to asbestos with a 
primary site in the pleura, peritoneum, or like tissue, or reasonably 
equivalent clinical diagnosis in the absence of adequate tissue for 
pathological diagnosis.

SEC. 304. ASBESTOS-RELATED LUNG CANCER.

    (a) In General.--The standard criteria for asbestos-related lung 
cancer shall include--
            (1) a diagnosis by a qualified physician of lung cancer 
        that the physician concludes was caused or contributed to by 
        exposure to asbestos;
            (2) a latency period of at least 10 years; and
            (3) either--
                    (A) evidence of asbestosis or bilateral pleural 
                thickening with impairment sufficient to meet the 
                requirements of section 302 or to qualify as an 
                exceptional medical claim under section 301(b); or
                    (B) chest x-rays which, in the opinion of a 
                certified B-reader, demonstrate asbestos-related 
                bilateral pleural plaques or thickening, and 7.5 
                equivalent-years of exposure to asbestos-containing 
                materials in employment regularly requiring work in the 
                immediate area of visible asbestos dust.
    (b) History of Smoking.--If a finding of asbestos-related lung 
cancer is made pursuant to paragraph (3)(B) and the exposed person has 
a substantial history of smoking, which shall be defined by rule, the 
claimant shall be medically eligible for compensation, but the finding 
of asbestos-related lung cancer shall not be conclusive as to causation 
for purposes of section 201.

SEC. 305. ASBESTOS-RELATED OTHER CANCER.

    The standard criteria for asbestos-related other cancer shall 
include a diagnosis by a qualified physician of a malignant primary 
tumor of the larynx, oral-pharynx, gastro-intestinal tract, or stomach, 
caused or contributed to by exposure to asbestos, together with 
evidence of a condition sufficient to meet the requirements of section 
302 or to qualify as an exceptional medical claim under section 301(b).

SEC. 306. MEDICAL TESTING REIMBURSEMENT.

    (a) Level A.--A claimant with at least 4 equivalent-years of heavy 
exposure to asbestos, whose chest x-ray shows either small irregular 
opacities of ILO Grade 1/0 or bilateral pleural thickening of ILO Grade 
B/2, shall be eligible for reimbursement of 100 percent of out-of-
pocket expenses for any medical testing required under section 102, up 
to a ceiling of $1500. Level A claimants shall be eligible at 3 year 
intervals for similar reimbursement of future medical testing expenses 
for up to 2 additional occasions. Level A reimbursements shall be 
treated as administrative expenses of the OAC and paid for by 
defendants under section 401.
    (b) Level B.--The Administrator shall, subject to the availability 
of appropriated funds, reimburse up to 100 percent of the out-of-pocket 
expenses for any medical testing required under section 102, up to a 
ceiling established by rule, with the approval of the Trustee, for any 
claimant with at least one equivalent-year of heavy exposure to 
asbestos who meets the medical but not the exposure requirements of 
Level A. Level B claimants may be eligible for similar reimbursement of 
future medical testing expenses for up to 2 additional occasions at 
least 3 years apart. The Administrator shall adjust periodically the 
amount of the cash payment to reflect changes in medical costs. Level B 
reimbursements shall be treated as administrative expenses of the OAC 
and paid for by defendants under section 401.
    (c) Certified Labs.--The Administrator is authorized to establish a 
program for the certification of laboratories to provide medical 
testing under this section.
    (d) Exposure Verification.--The Administrator shall establish audit 
and other procedures to provide reasonable assurance that statements 
concerning exposure made by claimants seeking medical testing 
reimbursement under this section are accurate.

                           TITLE IV--FUNDING

SEC. 401. ASSESSMENT AND ENFORCEMENT.

    (a) Rules.--The Administrator shall adopt rules for calculating and 
collecting from defendants all costs associated with the determination 
of claims and payments to claimants.
    (b) Trustee.--The Trustee shall have authority to bring an action 
in the district courts of the United States to enforce any obligation 
imposed on any person by this section and such courts shall have 
exclusive jurisdiction of such actions without regard to the amount in 
controversy or citizenship of the parties. The district court shall not 
entertain any defense other than lack of jurisdiction in any action by 
the Trustee under this subsection.
    (c) Trustee Prevails.--In any action under subsection (b) in which 
the Trustee prevails, the Trustee shall be entitled to costs, including 
reasonable attorneys' fees, and interest on any unpaid amount.
    (d) Judicial Review.--A defendant may challenge the legality or 
amount of any assessment only by seeking judicial review in the United 
States Court of Federal Claims after paying the disputed amount. If 
successful, the defendant shall be awarded interest.

SEC. 402. FISCAL AND FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT OF THE ASBESTOS COMPENSATION 
              FUND.

    (a) Applicability of Credit Reform Act Principles; Fiscal 
Management Rules.--Except as provided in this section, the operations 
of the Fund related to settlement payments under section 104, and 
associated recoveries from defendants, shall be governed by the Federal 
Credit Reform Act of 1990 (2 U.S.C. 661 et seq.), notwithstanding the 
status of the Fund as a governmental entity. The Administrator shall 
promulgate rules, approved by the Office of Management and Budget, for 
the fiscal management of the Fund. Such rules and their application 
shall not be subject to judicial review and shall, as regards payments 
under section 104--
            (1) provide all reasonable assurance that, over an 
        appropriate time period, the subsidy rate associated with the 
        net litigation risk of the Fund is zero;
            (2) provide all reasonable assurance that, in any given 
        year, the subsidy rate associated with the net litigation risk 
        of the Fund is no more than 2 percent;
            (3) provide for the allocation of receipts from defendants 
        to various Fund accounts, including the  Fund's financing 
account, program account, and an account for salaries and expenses 
(which shall include litigation costs); and
            (4) provide specific instructions for the Trustee to reduce 
        payments by the Fund when necessary to meet the solvency 
        requirements of this subsection.
    (b) Financing of the Fund, Settlement Payments to Claimants.--
            (1) Credit reform principles.--The Fund is authorized to 
        receive from defendants, as offsetting receipts, any amounts 
        related to settlements or judgments, including damages, 
        interest, litigation costs, specific administrative costs that 
        may be required by the Administrator through rulemaking, and 
        interest costs incurred by the Fund in connection with payment 
        of settlement offers made under section 103. Amounts received 
        from defendants as interest shall be sufficient to pay interest 
        costs due to the United States Treasury from the financing 
        account, plus the subsidy costs of the program account, 
        provided that the latter amounts may not exceed 3 percent of 
        the amount of any settlement or award. Recoveries on a claim by 
        the Fund in excess of the settlement amount paid to the 
        claimant and other costs of the Fund which are not paid to the 
        claimant under section 209 shall be available to the program 
        account as a reduction to subsidy costs in the current or any 
        subsequent year.
            (2) Authority.--The program account shall have permanent 
        indefinite authority, not subject to further appropriation, to 
        transfer funds to the finance account in accordance with 
        principles of the Credit Reform Act.

SEC. 403. AUTHORIZATION FOR APPROPRIATIONS AND OFFSETTING COLLECTIONS.

    (a) In General.--There are authorized to be appropriated--
            (1) to the OAC such sums as may be required to perform 
        responsibilities under this Act;
            (2) to the United States Court of Federal Claims, such sums 
        as may be required to carry out its responsibilities under this 
        Act; and
            (3) to the OAC an amount not to exceed $100 million, for a 
        one-time loan to the Fund in connection with startup expenses, 
        such loan to be repaid by the Fund with interest.
The total of appropriations provided under this subsection in the first 
year after the date of enactment not exceed $250 million and in any 
subsequent year not exceed $150 million.
    (b) Offsetting Collections of Administrative Assessments.--The OAC 
is authorized to receive and to expend in any year, as offsetting 
collections, all administrative assessments or prepaid administrative 
assessments and all costs and penalties paid to it.

                          TITLE V--TRANSITION

SEC. 501. APPLICABILITY; TRANSITIONAL CIVIL ACTIONS.

    (a) In General.--This Act shall be effective upon its date of 
enactment with respect to any civil action asserting an asbestos claim 
in which trial has not commenced as of that date.
    (b) Pending Claim.--A claimant with a pending civil claim on the 
date of enactment shall not be required to obtain a certificate of 
medical eligibility or otherwise exhaust the procedures set forth in 
title I if trial commences within 6 months of the date of enactment of 
this Act. This 6-month period may be extended by the Attorney General 
for up to an additional 6 months if required for the orderly 
implementation of this Act, and after reporting to the Congress the 
reasons for any such extension.
    (c) Right To Sue Letter.--If a claimant with--
            (1) a pending civil action on the date of enactment of this 
        Act, and
            (2) a scheduled trial date within one year after the date 
        of enactment of this Act--
does not receive an initial decision on medical eligibility within the 
time period prescribed in section 102(c), the claimant may request a 
right-to sue letter from the Administrator at any time prior to the 
issuance of that initial decision. If the Attorney General determines 
that the 6-month period in subsection (b) should be extended, the one-
year period in the preceding sentence shall be similarly extended. The 
Administrator shall issue a right-to-sue letter or an initial decision 
under section 102 within 10 days following the receipt of the 
claimant's request. A claimant who receives a right-to-sue letter may 
assert the claimant's asbestos claim in any competent forum 
notwithstanding section 101(b).
    (d) Claim in Another Forum.--Any claimant who asserts his claim in 
a forum other than the OAC under subsections (b) or (c) must 
demonstrate that the exposed person has qualified for medical 
eligibility under section 301, 302, 303, 304, 305, or 306.

                         TITLE VI--DEFINITIONS

SEC. 601. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:
            (1) Asbestos claim.--The term ``asbestos claim'' means any 
        claim for damages or other relief, arising out of, based on, or 
        related to the health effects of exposure to asbestos, 
        including any claim for personal injury, death, mental or 
        emotional injury, risk of disease or other injury, or the costs 
        of medical monitoring or surveillance, and including any claim 
        made by or on behalf of any exposed person or any 
        representative, spouse, parent, child, or other relative of any 
        exposed person. The term does not include any claim for 
        workers' compensation benefits, or any claim by an employer or 
        insurer for reimbursement from a third-party for benefits paid 
        under a workers' compensation plan, or any claim for benefits 
        under a veterans' benefits program.
            (2) Asbestos trust.--The term ``asbestos trust'' means a 
        court-supervised trust established to resolve asbestos claims 
        arising directly or indirectly from exposure to asbestos or 
        asbestos-containing products, including a trust created 
        pursuant to the bankruptcy laws of the United States or Rule 23 
        of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
            (3) Certificate of medical eligibility.--The term 
        ``certificate of medical eligibility'' means a certificate 
        issued to a claimant pursuant to this Act certifying that an 
        exposed person meets the requirements of one or more eligible 
        medical categories or qualifies as an exceptional medical 
        claim.
            (4) Certified b-reader.--The term ``certified B-reader'' 
        means an individual qualified as a ``final'' or ``B-reader'' 
        under 42 C.F.R. 37.51(b) (1997) (and any subsequent revisions 
        thereof) whose certification is current.
            (5) Chest x-rays.--The term ``chest x-rays'' means chest 
        radiographs taken in at least 2 views (Posterior-Anterior and 
        Lateral) and graded quality 1 for reading according to the 
        criteria established by the ILO. If the claimant is unable to 
        provide quality 1 chest x-rays because of death or because of 
        an inability to have new chest x-rays taken, chest x-rays 
        graded quality 2 will be acceptable.
            (6) Civil action.--The term ``civil action'' means any 
        action, lawsuit, or proceeding in any State, Federal, or tribal 
        court, but does not include--
                    (A) a criminal action; or
                    (B) an action relating to State or Federal workers' 
                compensation laws, or a proceeding for benefits under 
                any veterans' benefits program.
            (7) Claimant.--The term ``claimant'' means any exposed 
        person or the person's legal representative, and any relative 
        of an exposed person or their legal representative, who asserts 
        an asbestos claim.
            (8) Clinical evidence of asbestosis.--The term ``clinical 
        evidence of asbestosis'' means a diagnosis of pulmonary 
        asbestosis by a qualified physician based on the minimum 
        objective criteria of--
                    (A) chest x-rays for which a B-reader report is 
                furnished showing small irregular opacities of ILO 
                Grade 1/0 and pulmonary function testing and physical 
                examination that show either--
                            (i) FVC <80% of predicted value with FEV1/
                        FVC<gr-thn-eq> 75% (actual value); or
                            (ii) TLC <80% of predicted value, with 
                        either DLCO<ls-thn-eq> 76% of predicted value 
                        or bilateral basilar crackles, and also the 
                        absence of any probable explanation for this 
                        DLCO result or crackles finding other than the 
                        presence of asbestos lung disease; or
                    (B) chest x-rays for which a B-reader report is 
                furnished showing small irregular opacities of ILO 
                Grade 1/1 or greater and pulmonary function testing 
                that shows either--
                            (i) FVC <80% of predicted value with FEV1/
                        FVC<gr-thn-eq> 72% (actual value) or, if the 
                        individual tested is at least 68 years old at 
                        the time of the testing, with FEV1/
                        FVC<gr-thn-eq> 65% (actual value); or
                            (ii) TLC <80% of predicted value.
            (9) Compensatory Damages.--The term ``compensatory 
        damages'' means damages awarded for economic loss, such as 
        medical expenses, as well as non-economic loss. Non-economic 
        loss includes subjective, non-pecuniary loss, such as pain, 
        suffering, inconvenience, emotional distress, loss of society 
        and companionship, and loss of consortium.
            (10) Core claim.--The term ``core claim'' means an asbestos 
        claim against a defendant who either--
                    (A) manufactured any asbestos-containing product 
                which released asbestos fibers to which the exposed 
                person was exposed, and paid out $50 million in respect 
                of such claims cumulatively over the 10 year period 
                preceding the filing of the claim; or
                    (B) was not a manufacturer but paid out $100 
                million in respect of such claims cumulatively over the 
                10 year period preceding the filing of the claim; 
                provided that the alleged liability is not based upon 
                the control or ownership of property.
            (11) Defendant.--The term ``defendant'' means any person 
        who is or may be responsible for the asbestos-related condition 
        of the exposed person and who is so notified by the 
        Administrator pursuant to title I. The term does not include--
                    (A) an asbestos trust in existence as of the date 
                of enactment of this Act unless the trust elects to be 
                covered by this Act under section 701(b); or
                    (B) the United States Government or a State 
                government.
            (12) DLCO.--The term ``DLCO'' means single-breath diffusing 
        capacity of the lung (carbon monoxide), which is a measure of 
        the volume of carbon monoxide transferred from the alveoli to 
        blood in the pulmonary capillaries for each unit of driving 
        pressure of the carbon monoxide.
            (13) Equivalent-year.--The term ``equivalent-year'' means a 
        measure of exposure to asbestos adjusted to reflect varying 
        exposure levels typical of different occupations. Each year of 
        exposure in which an exposed person's primary occupation 
        involved the direct installation, repair, or removal of 
        asbestos-containing products, shall count as one year. Each 
        year of such occupational exposure in which the exposed 
        person's primary occupation involved either the direct 
        manufacture of asbestos-containing products using raw asbestos 
        fiber or the direct installation, repair, or removal of 
        asbestos-containing products in a shipyard during World War II, 
        shall count as 2 years. Each year of exposure in occupations 
        not described above shall count as one-half year.
            (14) Evidence of bilateral pleural thickening with 
        impairment.--The term ``evidence of bilateral pleural 
        thickening with impairment'' means a diagnosis of bilateral 
        pleural thickening by a qualified physician based on the 
        minimum objective criteria of either--
                    (A) chest x-rays for which a B-reader report is 
                furnished showing bilateral pleural thickening of ILO 
                Grade B/2 with pulmonary function testing and physical 
                examination that show either--
                            (i) FVC <80% of predicted value with FEV1/
                        FVC<gr-thn-eq> 75% (actual value) or
                            (ii) TLC <80% of predicted value, with 
                        either DLCO<ls-thn-eq> 76% of predicted value 
                        or bilateral basilar crackles, and also the 
                        absence of any probable explanation for this 
                        DLCO result or crackles finding other than the 
                        presence of asbestos lung disease; or
                    (B) chest x-rays for which a B-reader report is 
                furnished showing bilateral pleural thickening of ILO 
                Grade C/2 or greater; and pulmonary function testing 
                that shows either--
                            (i) FVC <80% of predicted value with FEV1/
                        FVC<gr-thn-eq> 72% (actual value) or, if the 
                        individual tested is at least 68 years old at 
                        the time of the testing, with FEV1/
                        FVC<gr-thn-eq> 65% (actual value); or
                            (ii) TLC <80% of predicted value.
            (15) Exposed person.--The term ``exposed person'' means any 
        person who has been exposed in any State (or while working 
        aboard a United States vessel outside the United States) to 
        asbestos or to asbestos-containing products.
            (16) FEV1.--The term ``FEV1'' means forced expiratory 
        volume (1 second), which is the maximal volume of air expelled 
        in one second during performance of the spirometric test for 
        forced vital capacity (FVC).
            (17) Fund.--The term ``Fund'' means the Asbestos 
        Compensation Fund.
            (18) FVC.--The term ``FVC'' means forced vital capacity, 
        which is the maximal volume of air expired with a maximally 
        forced effort from a position of maximal inspiration.
            (19) ILO.--The term ``ILO'' means the International Labour 
        Organization.
            (20) ILO grade.--The term ``ILO grade'' means the 
        radiological ratings for the presence of lung or pleural 
        changes by chest x-ray as established from time to time by the 
        ILO.
            (21) Latency period.--The term ``latency period'' means the 
        period from the date of the exposed person's first exposure to 
        asbestos or an asbestos-containing product to the date of 
        manifestation of the condition claimed.
            (22) Lung cancer.--The term ``lung cancer'' means a primary 
        malignant bronchogenic tumor, of any cell type, caused or 
        contributed to by exposure to asbestos.
            (23) Manifestation.--The term ``manifestation'' means 
        either the date of the actual diagnosis  of the condition 
claimed, or the date upon which the clinical records and available 
tests indicate that the condition could reasonably have been diagnosed 
by a qualified physician.
            (24) Net litigation risk.--The term ``net litigation risk'' 
        means the risk to the Asbestos Compensation Fund that amounts 
        paid out to claimants, plus associated interest and litigation 
        expenses, will exceed amounts recovered from defendants, 
        expressed as a percentage of sums expended, and estimated for a 
        specific cohort of transactions. Losses on particular claims 
        are netted against excess recoveries on other claims.
            (25) OAC.--The term ``OAC'' means the Office of Asbestos 
        Compensation.
            (26) Occupational history.--The term ``occupational 
        history'' means a listing of all employment positions, 
        providing for the dates and location of employment, the 
        employer, and a description of job responsibilities and 
        activities.
            (27) Party.--The term ``party'' does not include the United 
        States Government or a State government.
            (28) Pathological evidence of asbestosis.--The term 
        ``pathological evidence of asbestosis'' means diagnosis of 
        pulmonary asbestosis by a qualified physician based on a 
        finding that more than one representative section of lung 
        tissue otherwise uninvolved with any other process (e.g., 
        cancer or emphysema) demonstrates a pattern of peribronchiolar 
        or parenchymal scarring in the presence of characteristic 
        asbestos bodies, and also that there is no other more likely 
        explanation for the presence of the fibrosis.
            (29) Person.--The term ``person'' means an individual, 
        trust, firm, corporation, association, partnership, or joint 
        venture. The term does not include--
                    (A) an asbestos trust in existence as of the date 
                of enactment of this Act unless the trust elects to be 
                covered by this Act under section 701(b); or
                    (B) the United States Government or any State 
                government.
            (30) Physician.--The term ``physician'' means a medical 
        doctor or doctor of osteopathy currently licensed to practice 
        medicine in any State who has not, within the 5-year period 
        prior to the date of enactment of this Act, spent more than one 
        half of the doctor's professional time, or derived more than 
        one-half of the doctor's professional income, either annually 
        or in total, either reviewing or testifying in any forum on 
        medical-legal issues related to asbestos.
            (31) Predicted value.--The term ``predicted value'' means a 
        published reference to the normal breathing capacity of healthy 
        populations based on age, height, and gender, as approved by 
        the Medical Director, pursuant to a rule, issued within 120 
        days of the date of enactment. For the purposes of this Act, 
        the use of any published, predicted values that are generally 
        accepted in the medical community shall be acceptable and such 
        values may not be adjusted for race.
            (32) Pulmonary function testing.--The term ``pulmonary 
        function testing'' means tests for forced vital capacity, lung 
        volume, and diffusing studies using equipment, tests and 
        standards generally accepted in the medical community, as 
        approved by the Medical Director, pursuant to a rule, issued 
        within 120 days of enactment of this Act. Such pulmonary 
        function test shall not be adjusted for race.
            (33) Punitive damages.--The term ``punitive damages'' means 
        damages, in addition to compensatory damages, awarded against 
        any person to punish past conduct or deter that person, or 
        others, from engaging in similar conduct in the future.
            (34) Qualified physician.--The term ``qualified physician'' 
        means, with respect to a diagnosis or other medical judgment or 
        procedure under this Act, an internist, pulmonary specialist, 
        pathologist, radiologist, oncologist, or specialist in 
        occupational medicine with an appropriate subspecialty, as 
        appropriate, who is certified by the relevant medical specialty 
        board.
            (35) Qualifying national settlement plan.--The term 
        ``Qualifying National Settlement Plan'' means a written 
        agreement or related series of written agreements with 
        claimants or with attorneys or law firms representing 
        claimants, pursuant to which a person who is or may be 
        responsible for such claims has resolved or agreed to resolve 
        at least 50 percent of the asbestos claims that were pending 
        against such person.
            (36) State.--The term ``State'' means any State of the 
        United States, the District of Columbia, Commonwealth of Puerto 
        Rico, the Northern Mariana Islands, the Virgin Islands, Guam, 
        American Samoa, and any other territory or possession of the 
        United States or any political subdivision of any of the 
        foregoing.
            (37) TLC.--The term ``TLC'' means total lung capacity, 
        which is the volume of air in the lung after maximal 
        inspiration.
            (38) Trustee.--The term ``Trustee'' means the Trustee of 
        the Asbestos Compensation Fund.
            (39) Veterans' benefits program.--The term ``veterans' 
        benefits program'' means any program for benefits in connection 
        with military service administered by the Veterans' 
        Administration under Title 38, United States Code.
            (40) Workers' compensation law.--The term ``workers' 
        compensation law'' means a law respecting a program 
        administered by a State or the United States to provide 
        benefits, funded by a responsible employer or its insurance 
        carrier, for occupational diseases or injuries or for 
        disability or death caused by occupational diseases or 
        injuries. The term includes the Longshore and Harbor Workers' 
        Compensation Act (33 U.S.C. 901-944, 948-950), but does not 
        include the Employer's Liability Act, (45 U.S.C. chapter 2).

                  TITLE VII--MISCELLANEOUS PROVISIONS

SEC. 701. RELATIONSHIP TO OTHER LAWS.

    (a) Applicability of Other Federal Laws.--The OAC may, with the 
approval of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, waive 
the applicability in whole or in part of personnel and procurement laws 
and regulations, provided that any such waiver must be specific, must 
be subject to periodic review and evaluation, and must be reasonably 
related to the goals of expeditious, professional, efficient, cost-
effective and fair resolution of asbestos claims.
    (b) Application to Existing Asbestos Trusts.--
            (1) In general.--This Act shall not apply to any asbestos 
        trust in existence as of the date of enactment of this Act, 
        except as provided in paragraph (2).
            (2) Election.--An asbestos trust may elect to be subject to 
        this Act by providing written notice of such election to the 
        OAC, in which case the trust will have the same rights and 
        responsibilities under this Act as any person who is not a 
        trust. A valid election under this paragraph shall be 
        irrevocable.
    (c) Settlements Preserved.--Nothing in this Act--
            (1) invalidates any settlement of asbestos claims entered 
        into prior to the date of enactment of this Act; or
            (2) revokes or negates any asbestos defendant's standing 
        offer to settle existing asbestos claims.
    (d) Other Compensation.--This Act shall not be construed to affect 
the scope or operation of any workers' compensation law or veterans' 
disability benefit program, to affect the exclusive remedy provisions 
of any such law, or to authorize any lawsuit which is barred by any 
such provision of law.
    (e) Successor Liability.--Nothing in this Act is intended to 
displace otherwise applicable law governing any liability arising from 
the defendants' status as transferee or successor with respect to a 
change in ownership of corporate assets.

SEC. 702. ANNUAL REPORTS.

    The Administrator shall submit an annual report to the President 
and Congress.

SEC. 703. ENFORCEMENT.

    The Administrator may enforce any obligation imposed on any person 
by this Act in a district court of the United States, and such courts 
shall have exclusive jurisdiction over such actions without regard to 
the amount in controversy or citizenship of the parties. The 
Administrator, if successful, shall be entitled to costs, including 
attorney's fees.

SEC. 704. QUALIFYING NATIONAL SETTLEMENT PLAN.

    Any defendant which is party to a Qualifying National Settlement 
Plan may elect to defer the application of this Act (other than 
sections 201 through 207 and section 501) to asbestos claims against 
that defendant for a period not exceeding 7 years from a date relative 
to the commencement of the Qualified National Settlement Plan. The 
Administrator shall, by rule, adopt procedures for processing requests 
for deferral under this section. If the request for deferral is 
accepted, the deferred defendant and any asbestos claims or third party 
asbestos claims against the deferred defendant shall not be subject to 
the provisions of this Act (other than sections 201 through 207 and 
section 501).

SEC. 705. SEVERABILITY.

    If any provision of this Act or the application of such provision 
to any person or circumstance is held invalid, it is the intent of 
Congress that the remainder of this Act and application of such 
provision to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected 
thereby.

SEC. 706. SETTLEMENTS.

    For a period of 7 years after the date of enactment of this Act, a 
claimant or a defendant may specifically enforce, in any applicable 
Federal or State court where the claimant is alleging that the claimant 
was exposed to asbestos or where the claimant is currently domiciled, 
any written settlement agreement which was agreed to by the claimant or 
the claimant's attorney and the defendant before such date of 
enactment.
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