Florida Supreme Court Revives $6.6M Asbestos Award Against Union Carbide

The Florida Supreme Court reinstated a $6.6 million award Thursday against Union Carbide Corp. in an asbestos case that attracted high-powered amicus briefs and hinged on what attorneys saw as either a pro-consumer or pro-business test.

The court opted for a products liability test that asked whether a product performed as safely as a reasonable consumer would expect.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and others argued for a strong public policy goal of limiting the duty of upstream manufacturers and suppliers to warn end users, Frank Cruz-Alvarez of Shook, Hardy & Bacon in Miami wrote in an amicus brief.

The Florida Consumer Action Network and the Florida Justice Association, representing plaintiffs lawyers, argued in support of the Miami-Dade Circuit Court verdict.

The Supreme Court majority chose to rely on the second restatement of torts by the American Law Institute in 1965 rather than the third restatement issued in 1997 that sets a higher burden for consumers bringing products liability cases.

Source: Florida Supreme Court Revives $6.6M Asbestos Award Against Union Carbide | Daily Business Review

 


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Commentary: Firefighters and teachers bear outsize burden of asbestos deaths

Asbestos does not discriminate.

It doesn’t matter who you are – young or old, strong or frail, rich or poor, factory worker or CEO – if you inhale or ingest even one microscopic asbestos fiber, you’re at increased risk of developing a deadly disease whose symptoms may not show up for decades.

But of the estimated 12,000 to 15,000 Americans who die of asbestos-related diseases each year, some groups do bear a disproportionate burden. The death rate is highest for workers in industries in which asbestos is or was extensively used, such as construction, shipbuilding, chemicals and railroads. But while each asbestos death is tragic, the tragedy feels most horrifying and unfair when it strikes those who were exposed through their unselfish service to society. Among those more likely than the average American to die from asbestos exposure are two such groups – one that willingly put themselves in harm’s way, another that may have never known they were at risk: firefighters and teachers.

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Abstract A36: Novel therapeutic approaches for human malignant mesothelioma

Human malignant mesothelioma (MM) is an aggressive and highly lethal cancer that has been linked to asbestos and erionite exposure. MM causes about 3,200 deaths per year in the US and more than 100,000 deaths per year worldwide. We previously found that high-mobility group box-1 protein (HMGB1), a prototypic damage-associated molecular pattern (DAMP), plays a critical role in the early events of HM malignant transformation and MM development. More recently we showed that MM cells are “addicted” to HMGB1 that supports the malignant phenotype by promoting proliferation and invasiveness of MM cells. We demonstrated that MM growth is inhibited by targeting HMGB1 using HMGB1 neutralizing antibody or BoxA, a HMGB1 antagonist. Ethyl pyruvate (EP) is the ethyl ester of pyruvic acid, known to suppress oxygen radical formation and HMGB1 secretion. Here we show that EP impaired motility, survival and proliferation of MM cells in vitro. Both BoxA and EP inhibited the activity of the pro-inflammatory transcription factor NF-kappaB, as well as reduced HMGB1 serum levels and the growth of MM xenografts in SCID mice. Taken together, our results provide a preclinical proof-of-principle that inhibition of HMGB1 activity using either HMGB1 antibody, BoxA or EP offers novel therapeutic approaches for MM treatment.

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Rep. Farenthold: Pillar of privacy protection, but not for asbestos victims

“In America, we have a right to privacy and that right should be upheld.”

We couldn’t agree more with that stirring affirmation from Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas). In May, he tweeted that comment to express his concern over a White House proposal to make it easier for federal law enforcement to gain access to data on computers and wireless devices….

But Farenthold’s unwavering support for individual privacy and his determination to keep cyber attacks and Internet thieves at bay doesn’t extend to victims of asbestos exposure.

Farenthold is the author of the so-called FACT Act, or H.R. 526, that would force people suffering from asbestos-related diseases to disclose sensitive personal information online….

The FACT Act wasn’t Farenthold’s idea alone. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, conceived of the bill. The bill is beloved and backed by major corporations with asbestos liabilities and big insurance companies like Koch Industries, Honeywell, 3M, Allstate and Nationwide….

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Source: Rep. Farenthold: Pillar of privacy protection, but not for asbestos victims


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Shipbuilding Asbestos Cases Proceed Despite Bankruptcies

A federal judge has allowed a series of shipbuilding-related asbestos cases to proceed, despite the defendants’ assertion that the plaintiffs were barred from bringing them because the cases were not listed as assets in the plaintiffs’ respective bankruptcies.

In similar memorandums for 11 cases, U.S. District Judge Eduardo C. Robreno of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania denied the defendants’ motion for summary judgment.

The plaintiffs had been part of an asbestos MDL until their claims had been administratively dismissed in 1997. The plaintiffs entered separate bankruptcy litigations after the claims had been dismissed and eventually had their asbestos cases reinstated in 2009 after the bankruptcy litigations had ended.

According to Robreno’s opinion in one of the cases, Tesser v. A-C Product Liability Trust, the defendant shipowners, represented by the Thompson Hine firm in Cleveland, argued the plaintiff’s asbestos case was barred because he failed to disclose it as an asset in bad faith and that he could not pursue the action because it is now owned by the bankruptcy estate.

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Source: Shipbuilding Asbestos Cases Proceed Despite Bankruptcies

 


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Bevacizumab Triplet Improves Survival in Mesothelioma 

Adding bevacizumab (Avastin) to a standard chemotherapy doublet reduced the risk of death by 24% and disease progression by 39% in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), according to results from the phase II/III MAPS trial presented at the 2015 World Conference on Lung Cancer.

“The treatment of pemetrexed, cisplatin, and bevacizumab is a new treatment paradigm for patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma,” lead author Arnaud Scherpereel, MD, PhD, head of the Pulmonary and Thoracic Oncology Department and professor at the University Hospital (CHU) of Lille, France, said in a press conference at the World Lung meeting.

The French Cooperative Thoracic Intergroup (IFCT) phase II/III IFCT-GFPC-0701 MAPS trial included 448 chemotherapy-naïve patients enrolled across 73 locations between February 2008 and January 2014. Patients had to have unresectable, histologically confirmed MPM and an ECOG performance status (PS) of 0 to 2 (96.7% had a PS of 0-1). The median patient age was 65.7 years (range, 34.7-75.9).

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Model helps predict long-term survival after surgery in patients with malignant mesothelioma

A prognostic model appeared to help predict long-term survival in patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma who underwent extrapleural pneumonectomy, according to results of a retrospective study.

“The therapy for malignant pleural mesothelioma is still somewhat controversial, and the optimal surgical approach is still a matter of debate,” Giovanni Leuzzi, MD, medical director of thoracic surgery at IRCCS Foundation, National Cancer Institute in Milan, said in a press release. “Our study found clinic-surgical factors that can indicate which patients will benefit the most from surgery so that patients and their physicians can better decide the optimal course of therapy.”

Leuzzi and colleagues retrospectively reviewed clinicopathologic and oncological factors of patients with malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM) who had undergone extrapleural pneumonectomy to determine predictors of long-term survival after surgery.

The analysis included 468 patients (median age, 61 years) who underwent surgery for MPM in nine thoracic surgery centers in Italy from January 2000 to December 2010.

Almost one in four (22.9%) patients survived at least 3 years after surgery. Patients who survived at least 3 years had a lower exposure to asbestos (71.6%) compared with those who did not survive as long (83.1%) (P = .03).

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For BASF, huge potential liability emerges years after deal

When BASF acquired Engelhard Corp. nine years ago for $5 billion, executives unknowingly inherited a ticking legal time bomb.

It all began decades ago over the seemingly mundane industrial product talc, used in everything from wallboards to handling auto tires on the factory line.

In 1983, Engelhard quietly settled a lawsuit after its officials testified in depositions that talc produced by a company mine contained cancer-causing asbestos. All evidence was sealed and Engelhard and its law firm repeatedly said in subsequent lawsuits spanning more than two decades that the company’s talc was asbestos-free.

It wasn’t until 2009, after BASF assumed Engelhard’s liabilities, that another picture began to emerge. A former Engelhard scientist testifying in a lawsuit filed by his own daughter said he was told that “asbestos in trace amounts was found in talc,” and the company’s legal department “told us to purge our records” relating to the mine. A co-worker testified about test results in the 1970s showing the presence of asbestos in the talc.

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Source: For BASF, huge potential liability emerges years after deal – Chicago Tribune


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Current Systemic Management of Pleural Malignant Mesothelioma

Abstract

Malignant mesothelioma remains an uncommon malignancy of the pleura. Standard systemic therapy involves the use of pemetrexed and cisplatin. Recent results of a phase III, randomized clinical trial presented at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting in June 2015 support the addition of bevacizumab to this regimen. The study showed that the addition of bevacizumab improved progression-free survival and overall survival in those without contraindications to vascular endothelial growth factor inhibitor therapy. Second-line therapies yield modest efficacy, but commonly used agents include vinorelbine and gemcitabine, largely based on small phase II trials prior to the first-line use of pemetrexed. Efforts are ongoing to improve systemic options in all lines of therapy. Based on the success in other disease, promising new drugs are being explored that target key aberrant pathways in mesothelioma. Additionally, the advent of immunotherapies has led to some exciting results in mesothelioma….

 

Plaintiffs Reload in Fraud Case Against Cahill, BASF

After winning a high-profile appellate reversal last year, plaintiffs lawyers at Cohen, Placitella & Roth and Fox Rothschild have filed revamped allegations that Cahill Gordon & Reindel and BASF Catalysts conspired to destroy evidence in sprawling asbestos litigation….

The filing marks the latest development in a proposed class action brought in 2011 by the relatives of people who allegedly died from exposure to asbestos-contaminated talc made by Engelhard Corp., which BASF acquired in 2006. As The American Lawyer detailed in a feature story last year, Cahill and BASF are accused of conspiring to destroy and conceal evidence relevant to separate litigation brought by alleged asbestos victims.

The plaintiffs’ fraud allegations against Cahill and BASF are sweeping, tracing back more than 25 years to a 1979 lawsuit over the death of a former Engelhard employee. After BASF, through lawyers at Cahill, settled that lawsuit in 1984, the plaintiffs allege that BASF began directing employees to discard documents that related to asbestos in the company’s talc.

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Source: Plaintiffs Reload in Fraud Case Against Cahill, BASF


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