Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act: Back Again In 2015, And Still Unfair To US Mesothelioma Victims Who Are Entitled To Legal Compensation

About two years ago we posted this article, “Protect Asbestos Victims: Reasons To Oppose H.R. 982, the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2013”.

Now at the start of 2015 we have to have to report that the FACT Act is back.

As it was before, this pending legislation would make it more difficult for asbestos victims to receive a “day in court” and receive the legal compensation they deserve for their mesothelioma lawsuit or asbestos-related lung cancer claim. Essentially, the “new” FACT Act (H.R. 526) would both violate asbestos victims’ privacy and allow asbestos corporations to delay justice until asbestos victims die.

For more specifics about this unfortunate but not surprising legislative development we turn to a January 2015 item from the Environmental Working Group (EWG), “FACT Act Favors Asbestos Industry Over Justice, Public Health”:

Legislation re-introduced by Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas, would place new burdens on asbestos bankruptcy trusts, slowing compensation to victims suffering from fatal asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, EWG Action Fund said today.

The Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act (HR. 526), or FACT Act, would specifically require the bankruptcy trusts to issue quarterly reports disclosing detailed information about individuals seeking compensation, resulting in significant delays and unnecessary burdens for victims….

As EWG Action Fund documented in its groundbreaking investigation “Asbestos: Think Again”, thousands of Americans die each year from asbestos-related diseases. In addition to lung cancer and other illnesses, exposure to asbestos causes mesothelioma, an extremely painful and fatal cancer that attacks the lining of the lungs, stomach and other organs. Mesothelioma requires expensive medical treatment and often kills sufferers within months of being diagnosed.

We agree with the position taken by this EWG item, which had as a sub-headline:  “Would waste assets meant to help victims, invade privacy and delay compensation”.

Those few words capture all that is wrong with this Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2015 legislation.

Tell your lawmakers to do the right thing and reject the FACT Act.

Click here to tell your U.S. Representative to oppose the FACT Act (H.R. 526) TODAY!

 Mesothelioma, Asbestos, and Legal Compensation: Basic Facts

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Occupational Exposure To Asbestos Dust Or Secondhand Household Exposure Can Result In Mesothelioma Years Later

Over at our Asbestos-Mesothelioma.com website we have a list of questions about job sites or work places where workers were likely to have had direct exposure to asbestos dust if they worked there before the mid-1970’s. See: “Brief Test For Asbestos Exposure Based On Worker’s Employment History”.

In turn, those workers may be at an increased risk of getting an asbestos disease such as asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma later in life.

In addition, family members of those people who worked around asbestos on the job site or in the work place may have had so-called “secondhand” asbestos exposure. This could come from household activities such as washing the worker’s clothing or, even more unexpectedly, from simply giving a welcome-home hug daily upon the worker getting back to the house each day. See: “How Members Of Worker’s Family Have Been Exposed To Asbestos And Developed Mesothelioma Many Years Later”.

This more limited exposure to asbestos dust may put these family members at an increased risk of getting mesothelioma later in life.

The bottom line is that the risk of developing mesothelioma increases with heavier asbestos exposure. However, there have been cases of individuals with relatively minimal asbestos dust exposure many years ago later developing mesothelioma, such as the family members of asbestos workers.

 Mesothelioma, Asbestos, and Legal Compensation: Basic Facts

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Asbestos-Related Lung Cancer Cases Where There Is A History Of Smoking By Plaintiff: See How A Defense Law Firm Looks At These Lawsuits

Recently we came across an article written by two attorneys in Miles & Stockbridge’s Products Liability and Mass Torts Practice Group that provided some insights about how defense lawyers might assess asbestos lung cancer lawsuits.

From the Introduction part of this article, “Asbestos, Smoking and Lung Cancer: Valuing the Venue and Verdict” (subscription required), which was published online in November 2014:

In recent years, courts across the country have seen an increase in lung cancer cases based on alleged asbestos exposure. Many of these cases involve plaintiffs with significant histories of smoking tobacco. Despite this common sense alternative causation, courts vary widely on the impact of this factual scenario depending on the jurisdiction’s utilization of comparative or contributory negligence, recognition of a claim of strict liability, and method of apportionment of damages. Consideration of these factors is essential to evaluate the defense of a case and the potential financial impact of an adverse verdict.

The article continues with discussions of asbestos lung cancer cases from these various perspectives:

  • Comparative Fault
  • Contributory Negligence & Strict Liability
  • Apportionment of Damages
  • Reconciling Fault with Damages
  • Consistent Facts with Inconsistent Results
  • Future Implications

My law firm handles asbestos-related lung cancer cases for plaintiffs with a history of smoking when there is also underlying asbestosis or significant pleural disease present, and these cases are filed as lawsuits or bankruptcy claims against the responsible asbestos companies.

 Mesothelioma, Asbestos, and Legal Compensation: Basic Facts

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Verastem Says Its VS-6063 Mesothelioma Treatment Study Is On-Track And Showing Some Promising Results

The COMMAND clinical trial involves the use of Verastem’s experimental drug VS-6063 in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma. The primary endpoints of COMMAND are progression free survival (PFS) and overall survival (OS). VS-6063 targets cancer stem cells which are an underlying cause of tumor progression and recurrence.

In this January 8, 2015 corporate press release, “Verastem Provides Year-End 2014 Update and Outlook for 2015”, the drug company let us know that things are progressing relatively well for the COMMAND study:

We currently remain on track to complete enrollment by the end of 2015. We are seeing activity of VS-6063 across multiple tumor types, including mesothelioma, ovarian cancer, and also now in advanced non-small cell lung cancer. These results continue to increase our confidence in the potential of a successful outcome from COMMAND. Our goal is to achieve the first approval of VS-6063 in mesothelioma and then to broaden its use to many major cancers such as lung, ovarian and breast cancer [said Robert Forrester, President and Chief Executive Officer of Verastem.]…

“The signals of clinical activity and long-term tolerability that we are seeing across the VS-6063 program are encouraging,” said Dr. Joanna Horobin, Verastem Chief Medical Officer.

We will continue to monitor the COMMAND study being conducted for Verastem’s VS-6063 drug and watch of other clinical trials that involve possible future malignant mesothelioma treatments.


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A List Of Mesothelioma Case Reports From North Carolina Shows This Asbestos Cancer Causes The Deaths Of Many Different Types Of People

Given the limited amount of asbestos exposure needed to cause mesothelioma — just several months, in some instances (as compared to five years or more of working with or around asbestos-containing products for asbestosis and asbestos-related lung cancer) — many different types of people have developed mesothelioma.

In addition, the long latency period, i.e., delay from exposure to diagnosis, for mesothelioma — 10 years to 50 years — means that some people who are diagnosed with mesothelioma do not fit the traditional asbestos case profile, e.g., a construction trades worker who handled asbestos thermal insulation products.

For the past several years we have posted mesothelioma case reports about deaths from around the state of North Carolina caused by mesothelioma. By reviewing this list of North Carolina Mesothelioma Case Reports one can see the diversity of those people who been diagnosed with mesothelioma.

 Mesothelioma, Asbestos, and Legal Compensation: Basic Facts

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Biomarkers In Patients With An Epithelioid Subtype Of Pleural Mesothelioma Examined By Medical Researchers

In December 2014 PLoS ONE published online this new medical article, “Clinical Significance of Soluble CD26 in Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma” (free FULL text).

This article presents research about diagnostic markers for malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), starting with the premise that there is no established single diagnostic marker for pleural mesothelioma (the most common type of “meso”).

From the final part of the Abstract for this new medical journal article:

Moreover, [dipeptidyl peptidase IV (DPPIV)] enzyme activity in the pleural fluid of patients with MPM with an epithelioid subtype were significantly increased compared with those in the [other benign pleural diseases (OPD)] cohort (P = 0.009). Patients with MPM who had lower specific DPPIV activity, determined as DPPIV/sCD26, showed significantly prolonged survival compared with those with higher specific DPPIV activity (P = 0.028). Serum [soluble CD26 (sCD26)] and DPPIV enzyme activity appear to be useful biomarkers for differentiating patients with MPM from [subjects with past asbestos exposure (SPE)]. The sCD26 levels or DPPIV enzyme activity in pleural fluid appear to be biomarkers in patients with an epithelioid subtype of MPM. DPPIV activity in serum or pleural fluid appears to be predictive for the prognosis of patients with MPM.

We will continue to monitor the medical literature for mesothelioma research and report significant developments here.

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New Study Indicates Malignant Mesothelioma Is Result Of Polyclonal Tumors, While Most Cancers Are Monoclonal At The Outset

Malignant mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer caused by asbestos exposure that affects the mesothelium, which is the protective lining that covers the internal organs, such as the lungs, the heart, and the abdominal cavity.

It has been long thought that mesothelioma and other tumors arising from exposure to asbestos are caused by mutations in one cell, i.e., monoclonal, which then produces multiple clones.

Recent work by researchers from University of Hawaii Cancer Center suggests, however, that malignant mesothelioma is caused by mutations in multiple cells, i.e., polyclonal.

The new medical journal article about this study, “Evaluation of clonal origin of malignant mesothelioma”, was published December 4, 2014 in the Journal of Translational Medicine.

From a news report, “Cancer from asbestos caused by more than one cell mutation”, we get these observations from the lead researcher, Michele Carbone, of the University of Hawaii:

Our study indicates that malignant mesothelioma is the result of polyclonal tumors, a finding that has implications for our understanding of the disease and the clinic. For example, patients that have their tumors removed at the early stages of this type of cancer will most often go on to have a recurrence in spite of the appearance of the eradication of malignant mesothelioma. This new insight helps us understand why that may be…..

Our findings underscore the need to attack simultaneously several different molecular targets to try to eliminate the different malignant mesothelioma cell clones, as each clone may carry its own distinct set of molecular alterations.

We will continue to monitor the medical journals for new studies concerning malignant mesothelioma.

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The Use Of Beauty Or Cosmetic Products That Had Asbestos-Contaminated Talc May Be The Cause Of That Mysterious, Non-traditional Mesothelioma Case

A couple of weeks ago we posted this article, “Mesothelioma And Cancers Caused By Asbestos-Contaminated Talc In Body Powder Products And Cosmetics: New Scientific Study Provides Evidence Of Asbestos Fibers In Talc”, which explored the asbestos-talc mesothelioma cancer situation.

Given the facts set forth in the underlying news report by investigative reporter Andrew Schneider, “Study: Cosmetic talc products carry asbestos peril”, one would think that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would be taking action.

However, despite medical studies and lawsuits which point to cancers such as mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos-contaminated talc, the FDA maintains — as it has for many years in the past — that it lacks both resources and regulatory authority to protect consumers.

From a second investigative news report by Andrew Schneider, “FDA: Weak laws, sparse resources handcuff angency”, we get these revelations:

Many in public health look with envy at how other governments regulate products containing asbestos-tainted talc.

For example, in April 2009, South Korea’s Food and Drug Administration responded almost instantly after testing showed that hundreds of pharmaceutical and cosmetic products were contaminated with dangerous talc.

Immediately, tens of thousands of individual items _ of more than 1,100 different products –were ordered from store shelves and banned from future sale. They included finished products that were imported from China or made in South Korea from raw Chinese talc. The South Korean government said the imported talc had “dangerously high, completely unacceptable, levels of asbestos.”

As word of the South Korean action spread to the U.S public health community, FDA was asked whether it was sure that talc used here was asbestos free.

The agency repeated its talc mantra that it “relies on mine operators, importers and cosmetic and consumer product makers to ensure the safety of what they sell.”

And later from that same news report we see what this industry self-regulation is getting us, or not, in terms of protection from exposure to asbestos-contaminated talc:

In its examination of the relationship between asbestos and talc in 360 commercial sized and smaller U.S. talc deposits, the USGS reported that “a number of U.S. talc deposits of commercial size . . . . consistently contain talc intergrown with (asbestos) … such as tremolite and (or) anthophyllite,” and that “the amounts differ from none detected to trace to significant amounts of asbestos.”

But many safety experts are more concerned about the enormous volumes of often-cheaper foreign talc being used in the United States.

Import Genius, a commercial operation which tracks shipping activity of millions of products around the world, provided data that showed that in the last 18 months more than 1,400 shipments of talc or talc products were sent into the U.S. from 34 countries.

If someone diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma has no known exposure to the traditional asbestos-containing products such as thermal insulation and fire-proofing materials, investigators are now looking into the possibility that it was their use of beauty or cosmetic products that had asbestos-contaminated talc which may have been the cause of the mesothelioma.

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Medical Study Of Amatuximab Plus Pemetrexed And Cisplatin In Patients With Unresectable Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma Shows Positive Results

This recent article, “Phase II Clinical Trial of Amatuximab, a Chimeric Antimesothelin Antibody with Pemetrexed and Cisplatin in Advanced Unresectable Pleural Mesothelioma”, initially published online in September 2014 by the Clinical Cancer Research medical journal, informs about an apparent advancement made in the treatment on malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM).

From the Abstract for this medical journal article:

Purpose: Amatuximab is a chimeric monoclonal antibody to mesothelin, a cell surface glycoprotein highly expressed in malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM). On the basis of its synergy with chemotherapy in preclinical studies, we evaluated the antitumor activity of amatuximab plus pemetrexed and cisplatin in patients with unresectable MPM.

Conclusions: Amatuximab with pemetrexed and cisplatin was well tolerated with objective tumor response or stable disease rate of 90% by independent radiologic review. Although [progression-free survival (PFS)] was not significantly different from historical controls, the median [overall survival (OS)] was 14.8 months with a third of patients alive and 5 continuing to receive amatuximab at the time of analysis.

We will continue to monitor the medical journal for mesothelioma treatment developments.

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Mesothelioma And Cancers Caused By Asbestos-Contaminated Talc In Body Powder Products And Cosmetics: New Scientific Study Provides Evidence Of Asbestos Fibers In Talc

An article by investigative reporter Andrew Schneider, “Study: Cosmetic talc products carry asbestos peril”, about the asbestos-talc mesothelioma cancer situation is frightening, as you will see, and perhaps fittingly it was published on Halloween day, October 31, 2014.

From the start of this recent news report:

Talc, the fine, powdery mineral used in thousands of consumer products by everyone from newborns to the elderly, can be a killer when it’s contaminated with asbestos, which some public health experts say happens far more often than miners and manufacturers acknowledge.

In an explosive new study, scientists from three different laboratories worked for more than a year to track asbestos-contaminated talc from the mines to a popular body-powder product, then into the lung tissue of a woman who died of asbestos-caused mesothelioma after years of using the product.

This detailed article goes on to examine an extensive study on mesothelioma and talc products published online in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health in September 2014. As regards that study:

“We have traced the asbestos in the talc to the mines from which it originated, into the milled grades, into the product, and finally into the lung and lymph nodes of the users of those products, including one woman who developed mesothelioma,” the study reported.

During their testing, they found that the talcum powder used by the victim — Cashmere Bouquet — “contained identifiable asbestos fibers with the potential to be released into the air and inhaled during normal personal talcum powder application.”

The bottom line is that asbestos-contaminated talc is found in many personal-use products — cosmetics, body powder, baby powder, and the talc used by barbers.

We will be writing more about this asbestos-talc mesothelioma cancer situation in the coming weeks.



UPDATE: “The Use Of Beauty Or Cosmetic Products That Had Asbestos-Contaminated Talc May Be The Cause Of That Mysterious, Non-traditional Mesothelioma Case”


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