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The Truth Not Told By The Wall Street Journal

 

 

Today the Wall Street Journal published an article about the civil justice system that was obviously slanted and anything but fair and balanced journalism. Cynics argue that the article echoed the agenda of the Chamber of Commerce and ALEC to delay and deny the wrongfully injured their right to fair compensation. Whatever the motive, the following article tells the truth and sets the record straight .

The following is taken directly from http://www.takejusticeback.com/node/126.

On March 11, 2013, the Wall Street Journal published an article that fits neatly in the play book of Big Asbestos’ campaign to avoid compensating the asbestos victims they deliberately harmed by vilifying the victims and accusing them and their families of “fraud.” The goal of this campaign, led by asbestos corporations, their insurers and their front groups, is to delay and deny until asbestos victims die.

Rather than focusing on these victims and their families who have been devastated by asbestos disease, the WSJ article perpetuates the same deceptive and inaccurate claims about the asbestos trusts that Big Asbestos has been campaigning on for years. At no point does the article claim to have actual evidence of widespread fraud; instead, the article relies on unnamed, unidentified “politicians, judges and defense lawyers” that claim that the “opportunity for abuse flourishes.” What the WSJ's data analysis does show that the trusts have a very low error rate and are operating efficiently, especially for such a massive system.

These unfounded accusations are used by Big Asbestos to push legislation at the state and federal levels that would add significant time and costs to the justice process for victims. The following are some of the most deceptive claims in the article:

Myth: There are too many asbestos lawsuits and claims.

Fact: There are many asbestos lawsuits and claims because Big Asbestos knowingly exposed millions of Americans to this deadly product and covered up the dangers for profit. Asbestos has killed hundreds of thousands of Americans and 10,000 more are killed each year. Lives could have been saved and lawsuits prevented if Big Asbestos was transparent about the dangers decades ago.

Myth: Asbestos victims recover windfalls of money from asbestos bankruptcy trusts.

Fact: The majority of asbestos victims are grossly undercompensated for the astronomical medical costs and loss associated with asbestos disease.

Asbestos corporations that admitted they are responsible for killing thousands of Americans have taken advantage of a special bankruptcy process that allows them to shed all of their asbestos liability through the creation of a trust and go on to make huge profits. The trusts were underfunded by the corporations when they were created and the number of people made sick by asbestos was underestimated. As a result, asbestos victims only recover pennies on the dollar from those trusts. Even the asbestos-industry funded RAND study found that most “trusts do not have sufficient funds to pay every claim in full.” The median payment percentage to victims is 25 percent, but some trusts pay as low as 1.1 percent of the value of a claim.

Myth: Asbestos victims are inappropriately recovering from multiple asbestos corporations.

Fact: Most victims were exposed to multiple asbestos products. Multiple corporations are responsible and should be held accountable for their portion of the blame. State laws exist to ensure that every defendant, whether a traditional defendant or a trust, only pays its share of liability. Defendants routinely seek and are awarded off sets in accordance with state law.

Myth: Fraudulent claims run rampant in the asbestos trust system.

Fact: First, there is no record of fraud and abuse in the trust system. In fact, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) looked into this question and found none. Additionally, at no point does the WSJ article claim to have actual evidence of systemic fraud. Instead, the the article relies on unnamed, unidentified “politicians, judges and defense lawyers” that claim that the “opportunity for abuse flourishes.”

Second, human error in data entry is not fraud. It is a misinterpretation of the data to conclude that data entry cases constitute fraud. Even if the WSJ’s numbers are accurate, they only prove that out of the millions who have filed claims with asbestos trusts, the error rate is 0.42%, an amount far lower than similar large trust systems. What the WSJ's data analysis does show is that the trusts have a very low error rate and are operating efficiently, especially for such a massive system.

Myth: Federal legislation is necessary to prevent fraud and abuse in the trust system.

Fact: Federal legislation is unnecessary and offensive. Proposed federal legislation would require private asbestos trusts to publicly release extensive individual information about asbestos victims and would slow down asbestos cases by allowing asbestos defendants to bury the trusts in information requests, no matter how unnecessary or irrelevant.

Asbestos corporations are already able to obtain all relevant information without this legislation. State courts can and routinely do demand that both sides turn over all information relevant to a pending action. The WSJ article admitted that judges across the country have granted defense requests to subpoena bankruptcy trusts. The article notes that corporations that have been found guilty by jury of knowingly killing Americans want the additional data from the trusts so they can save “hundreds of millions of dollars in jury verdicts.” What asbestos defendants really want, beyond what they can get now, is information irrelevant to a case that would only serve to delay compensation to victims and shift blame. In other words, asbestos defendants want to delay and deny until the asbestos victim dies.

Myth: Trusts are ripe for fraud because they do not require any real proof from claimants.

Fact: Asbestos corporations that have taken advantage of the trusts system already admit that their products are responsible for asbestos diseases. The only proof claimants need to show is that they were exposed to that corporation’s asbestos and that they are sick with asbestos disease. The trusts examine evidence of claims before payments are made and according to GAO, trusts have a system in place to address allegations of fraud. Additionally, state courts are fully equipped to handle such allegations.

Myth: There is no limit to how many trusts a person can tap.

Fact: Claimants must prove they were exposed to the corporation’s asbestos product and that they were harmed by that exposure in order to file a claim with that corporation’s trust.

 

Mesothelioma: Canada Finally Stops Supporting the Killing Machine

Published: September 17, 2012

by Bill Chappell

Canada's leaders have ended their country's longstanding resistance to asbestos being called a dangerous material under United Nations guidelines, a decision that reflects a shift in the leadership of Quebec province, home of Canada's asbestos industry.

Quebec's incoming premier, Pauline Marois, promised late in her campaign that she would shut down the region's asbestos mines for good. She says that she will use money that would have gone to restart the mines to diversify the local economy.

As Dan Karpenchuk reports for NPR's Newscast unit:

“Canadian industry minister Christian Paradis made the announcement in the town of Thetford Mines, in the heart of Quebec's asbestos belt. He blamed the incoming separatist government in Quebec for promising to cancel a $58 million loan that would have reopened Canada's last major asbestos mine.”

“Paradis says it means hundreds of workers will remain without jobs. But he says it would no longer make sense for Ottawa to support the asbestos industry when Quebec, the only province that produces it, will prohibit its exploitation.”

The CBC reports that in 2010, “Canada was producing 150,000 tonnes of asbestos annually, all of it in Quebec, and exporting 90 percent — worth about $90 million — to developing countries.”

Canada has long been criticized for its stance on asbestos. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and others have been steadfast in their support of the industry, resisting efforts to include asbestos in the U.N. Rotterdam Convention, a treaty that lists chrysotile and other forms of the material as hazardous.

Writing in The Toronto Star, columnist David Olive says, “Canada's hypocrisy on asbestos has long been malodorous. Like almost all advanced countries, Canada has banned most domestic uses of asbestos, whose fire-retardant properties are greatly outweighed by its carcinogenic ones. Harper has been spending millions of dollars to remove the last traces of asbestos in the Parliament Buildings and his official residence at 24 Sussex Drive.”

Back in 2010, NPR's Brenda Wilson summed up the broader dispute over asbestos:

“On one side is the World Health Organization contending that all types cause cancer and that its continued use, primarily in countries like China, India, Brazil, Mexico, and other places will only prolong the epidemic of cancers related to its use. The cancers can take up to 30 to 40 years to develop.”

“On the other side is the proud little town of Asbestos, two hours outside Montreal, Canada, where BBC producer Steve Bradshaw says, 'There's a mine in the center of town that is as deep as the Eiffel Tower is high.'”

Canada's asbestos industry has been in a recent decline — earlier this year, the Chrysotile Institute, a powerful industry lobbying group, closed after it stopped receiving government support.

News of Canada's shift came out late Friday — evidence, perhaps, that Canadian politicians, like their counterparts to the south, prefer to save problematic news for the end of the week, when they can “dump” them into the mix of weekend plans and movie reviews that many people concern themselves with on Fridays. [Copyright 2012 National Public Radio]

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Asbestos Laden Waste Creates Health Hazard for Japanese Workers Becoming A Suicidal Act

Months after the Japanese Tsunami officials continue to speculate as to the overall health hazard the cleanup site poses to the workers, volunteers and residents who have been left to roam freely through the debris that remains. According to a recent CBS News article covering the cleanup:

“Workers, volunteers and residents roam freely through the debris. Some wear masks; others don’t, despite the plumes of dust that shoot up every time a giant steel claw grabs a load of debris. On windy days, particles swirl in the air. They sting eyes and irritate throats before leaving behind a thin layer of dust on whatever passes through.

“There are a lot of people going back into the rubble to search for valuables and photos,” said Takuo Saitou, a Sendai-based attorney and a spokesman for a group tackling defective home issues in northern Japan.

“There are people not even wearing masks. This is like a suicidal act,” he said. “We want people to know this is a problem.”

Asbestos fibers are so small that they easily enter the lungs, where they cause inflammation. Studies show they increase the risk of lung cancer, the rare cancer mesothelioma and lung disorders including asbestosis. Because the effects of asbestos are long-term, it often takes decades to see them.

Saitou’s group submitted letters last week to the environment minister and other government officials asking for air monitoring around disaster-hit areas, effective public information, mask distribution and proper handling of asbestos-laden waste.

The problem has been faced before by both Japan and the U.S. — two of the biggest asbestos consumers of the 20th century. As they struggled to address disasters, they found themselves spread too thin to address longer-term health hazards.

To read the entire article, visit http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2011/04/27/501364/main20057826.shtml

Information from the Federal Government

The  ATSDR is a branch of the federal government charged with monitoring and providing information about diseases in the United States. Please click on the link below to access the ATSDR information on mesothelioma and asbestos. http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/asbestos/living_asbestos/index.html

Medical Expert Update

The Center for Disease control has issued its update on the estimate of the number of mesothelioma that occur each year in the United states. According to the estimates asbestos related mesothelioma will continue until 2055. According to the report "Because mesothelioma manifests 20–40 years after first exposure, the number of mesothelioma deaths will likely peak by 2010 (4). The analysis described in this report indicates that the annual number of mesothelioma deaths is still increasing, and future cases will continue to reflect the extensive past use of asbestos."

View the contents of the CDC’s report on Malignant Mesothelioma Mortality in the United States.

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