It Appears That Wisconsin Legislators Were “Told” By ALEC How To Draft Asbestos Lawsuits Restrictions Bill Which Is To Be Voted On In March 2014

It is well-established that the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce are in favor of state statutes which serve to narrow or restrict access to the courts for individuals who have developed asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma.

To this end, ALEC has pushed for legislation that would allow corporations to not let an asbestos lawsuit to proceed to trial in the court system until the person with mesothelioma, for example, files claims with the various relevant asbestos bankrupty “trust funds” (which were set up after an asbestos company went bankrupt, as many companies have done due to their asbestos legal compenation liabilities).

There are many reasons this type of legislation is not fair to that person — while serving to benefit the responsible asbestos companies which would be defendants in the court trial — with the most obvious one being that most individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma will live only 6 to 18 months from the time they are diagnosed.  Meanwhile, the asbestos bankruptcy claims filing process can take several years from start to finish for the typical occupational-exposure asbestos case.

As regards the most recent ALEC “involvement” with asbestos litigation in the court system, this time in Wisconsin, we get the following from a March 20, 2014 article, “Wisconsin Poised to Pass ALEC’s Deadly Asbestos Bill”, published on the PR Watch site (which is a service of the Center for Media and Democracy):

Wisconsin could become the latest state to narrow access to the courts for asbestos victims in a bill up for a vote on March 20, joining a national coordinated effort that can be traced back to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Rep. Andre Jacque, a member of the ALEC Civil Justice Task Force, introduced Assembly Bill 19 in April of 2013. A version of the legislation passed the Wisconsin Senate last week on a nearly party line vote, and is now before the Assembly. It resembles the ALEC “Asbestos Claims Transparency Act,” which was adopted as a “model” by members of the ALEC Civil Justice Task Force in 2007. In December of 2012, Ohio became the first state to pass the legislation. In the 2013 session, nearly identical legislation has been introduced in Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Illinois and Texas.

The legislation would benefit corporations like Crown Holdings, a Fortune 500 company with over $8 billion in annual sales that has worked with ALEC for years to legislate its way out of compensating asbestos victims, as well as ALEC member Honeywell International, which has faced significant asbestos liability in recent years….

Sponsors Say the Bill Has Nothing to Do with ALEC?

The Wisconsin bill’s sponsors, Rep. Andre Jacque and Sen. Glenn Grothman — both ALEC members — deny that ALEC had anything to do with AB 19. Andrew Cook of the Wisconsin Civil Justice Council also said his group did not consult with ALEC on the bill.

According to the drafting files, Rep. Jacque asked the Legislative Reference Bureau to draft a bill based on the Ohio legislation. Yet as a member of the ALEC Civil Justice Task Force, Rep. Jacque surely knew that the Ohio bill was based off of the ALEC model.

[Footnotes omitted; live links are found at original source]

As state lawmakers elected by the citizens of Wisconsin, these legislators should not be in a position where it appears that they were “told” how to draft legislation which serves the interests of certain corporations while, at the same time, disregards the legal rights of those people in Wisconsin who, unfortunately and due to no fault of their own, have developed mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.


 Mesothelioma, Asbestos, and Legal Compensation: Basic Facts

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Global Asbestos Awareness Week: April 1 – April 7, 2014: Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO)

AsbestosAwarenessWeekMark your calendar now to check in with the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) for this important event:

Global Asbestos Awareness Week, April 1-7, 2014, brings together asbestos victims and concerned citizens around the world to raise public awareness about the dangers of asbestos exposure and to work towards a global asbestos ban.

In more detail, first, each day the fine folks at ADAO will focus on a different asbestos-related subject and provide a “Mesothelioma Warrior” story for you to read and share.

  • April 1:  Linda Reinstein, “Asbestos: The Toxic Trade Continues.”
  • April 2:  Dr. Richard Lemen, “Asbestos: What Is It?”
  • April 3:  Dr. Arthur Frank, “Why Is Asbestos Bad for My Health?”
  • April 4:  Dr. Ken Takahashi, “Toolkit for the Elimination of Asbestos-Related Diseases (ARDs).”
  • April 5:  Keeping Workers Safe.
  • April 6:  A Statement from the U.S. Surgeon General.
  • April 7:  Mesothelioma Warriors Speak Out.

In addition, we encourage you to review and sign the Global Asbestos Awareness Week Declaration for a Worldwide Asbestos Ban.

On April 7th, 2014, ADAO will be publishing the Global Asbestos Awareness Week Declaration for a Worldwide Asbestos Ban and list of signatories of those who pledged their support.


 Mesothelioma, Asbestos, and Legal Compensation: Basic Facts

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New Therapy Approach Has A Double Effect On Malignant Mesothelioma Cells Says Medical Researchers In Vermont

There seems to be some hopeful news coming out of the Department of Pathology at the University of Vermont College of Medicine in Burlington, Vermont.

In January 2014 an article written by some researchers there was published online by the Cancer Prevention Research medical journal.

From the Abstract for this article, “Curcumin: A Double Hit on Malignant Mesothelioma”, we get these basic points:

  • Inflammation is a key mediator in the development of malignant mesothelioma, which has a dismal prognosis and poor therapeutic strategies. Curcumin, a naturally occurring polyphenol in turmeric, has been shown to possess anticarcinogenic properties through its anti-inflammatory effects.
  • In the present study, we investigate the role of curcumin in pyroptotic cell death of malignant mesothelioma cells.
  • Our data indicate that curcumin has a double effect on malignant mesothelioma cells through induction of pyroptosis while subsequently protecting against inflammation.

We will watch for more news concerning this innovative approach to treating malignant mesothelioma.


 Mesothelioma, Asbestos, and Legal Compensation: Basic Facts

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If Someone You Know Has Or Had Asbestos Mesothelioma, Did They Happen To Smoke Kent Cigarettes In The 1950s?

In October 2013 Mother Jones magazine published an article with this attention getting headline, “Remember When Big Tobacco Sold Asbestos as the ‘Greatest Health Protection’?”.

From that news story by Myron Levin:

It’s hard to think of anything more reckless than adding a deadly carcinogen to a product that already causes cancer—and then bragging about the health benefits. Yet that’s precisely what Lorillard Tobacco did 60 years ago when it introduced Kent cigarettes, whose patented ‘Micronite” filter contained a particularly virulent form of asbestos.

Smokers puffed their way through 13 billion Kents between March 1952 and May 1956, when Lorillard changed the filter design. Six decades later, the legal fallout continues—just last month, a Florida jury awarded more than $3.5 million in damages to a former Kent smoker stricken with mesothelioma, an extremely rare and deadly asbestos-related cancer that typically shows up decades after the initial exposures.

A very important characteristic of asbestos-related cancers and diseases is the long delay, or latency period, between the asbestos exposure and the onset of disease. It is usually at least 15 years, and sometimes as long as 40 or 50 years, after the person’s first exposure to asbestos before an asbestos-related condition develops in the exposed person.


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New Medical Study About Mesothelioma Treatment Shows Benefit Of Radiation Therapy Prior To Surgical Procedure

In January 2014 there was some apparent good news regarding how one might medically treat individuals who have developed mesothelioma.

In short, a recent article published by the Journal of Thoracic Oncology suggests that the treatment of mesothelioma with radiation before there is any surgery done can increase survival time in some instances.

From a January 20, 2014 news report, “Radiation Before Surgery More Than Doubles Mesothelioma Survival”:

“The patients in our study experienced shorter treatment, fewer complications and speedier recovery,” says [Dr. John Cho, radiation oncologist at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, University Health Network (UHN)]. “The three-year survival rate more than doubled to 72% from 32%.” Mesothelioma is an aggressive malignancy that starts in the lining of the lung and progressively restricts and invades the whole organ.

The study assessed a new approach dubbed SMART – Surgery for Mesothelioma After Radiation Therapy – and was completed over four years with 25 patients who had radiation therapy at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre and surgery at Toronto General Hospital, both part of UHN.

Participants were treated with an accelerated, five-day course of intensity-modulated radiation therapy (IMRT), a specialized technique that conforms the radiation dose around the tumours in 3D while sparing the heart, spine and other healthy tissues. The patients underwent surgery to remove the affected lung the following week.

“It was imperative to do the surgery quickly because the lung is particularly sensitive to radiation toxicity,” says thoracic surgeon Dr. Marc de Perrot [an Associate Professor of Surgery at the University of Toronto and also leads the Toronto Mesothelioma Research Program], also an author of the study….

“These research results offer real hope to mesothelioma patients who have too often been told in the past that they may have only six months to live,” says Dr. de Perrot….

Since the study, Drs. Cho and de Perrot have used the SMART approach to successfully treat 20 more patients.

We are encouraged by this recent medical journal report about radiation followed by surgery as a new method for mesothelioma treatment, and we will watch for further developments as regards this SMART approach pioneered by Dr. Cho and Dr. de Perrot.


 Mesothelioma, Asbestos, and Legal Compensation: Basic Facts

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Federal Court Bankruptcy Judge George Hodges Gives Asbestos Defendant Garlock What They Wanted And More, Which Is Unfortunate For Mesothelioma Victims

Last summer we were monitoring a bankruptcy estimation trial for the former asbestos company Garlock Sealing Technologies in Charlotte, North Carolina and being presided over by federal bankruptcy judge George Hodges.

This Garlock Chapter 11 case is In re Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC, 10-bk-31607, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Western District of North Carolina (Charlotte).

And on January 10, 2014 Judge Hodges issued his ruling which was fully in favor of Garlock as reported in this Bloomberg article published on the InsuranceJournal.com website, “EnPro’s Garlock Wins Trial on Asbestos Liability; Judge Hits Claimants’ Lawyers”:

Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC, a unit of EnPro Industries Inc., emerged victorious after a trial with official representatives of asbestos personal injury claimants.

Adopting the company’s estimate, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge George R. Hodges in Charlotte, North Carolina, concluded that $125 million is the “reasonable and reliable” estimate of present and future liability for mesothelioma claims.

Hodges rejected the claimants’ methodology and experts’ reports who contended the liability was about 10 times larger, or almost $1.3 billion….

Hodges said it was proper to use Garlock’s method of deciding the degree of the company’s “legal liability” by looking at the merits of claims. He rejected the claimants’ method of using Garlock’s historical settlements to extrapolate how much it would cost to settle present and future claims.

The opinion boils down to Hodges’s conclusion that those who became sick had “relatively low exposure” to Garlock’s products and that the company’s liability should be “relatively de minimus.”

Certainly a disappointing result for those individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma after working with and around Garlock’s asbestos-containing products in the past.


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National Institute For Occupational Safety And Health (NIOSH) Study About Deaths From Mesosthelioma And Asbestosis Published In January 2014 Medical Journal

From the Abstract for this recently published 2014 article about the loss of life attributable to asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma, “Diseases attributable to asbestos exposure: Years of potential life lost, United States, 1999-2010″, we get these sobering facts about the number of years lost to asbestos cancer and and asbestos disease in the US:

BACKGROUND:

Although asbestos use has been restricted in recent decades, asbestos-associated deaths continue to occur in the United States.

OBJECTIVES:

We evaluated premature mortality and loss of potentially productive years of life attributable to asbestos-associated diseases.

METHODS:

Using 1999-2010 National Center for Health Statistics mortality data, we identified decedents aged ?25 years whose death certificate listed asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma as the underlying cause of death. We computed years of potential life lost to life expectancy (YPLL) and to age 65 (YPLL65 ).

RESULTS:

During 1999-2010, a total of 427,005 YPLL and 55,184 YPLL65 were attributed to asbestosis (56,907 YPLL and 2,167 YPLL65 ), malignant mesothelioma (370,098 YPPL and 53,017 YPLL65 ). Overall and disease-specific asbestos-attributable total YPLL and YPLL65 and median YPLL and YPLL65 per decedent did not change significantly from 1999 to 2010.

CONCLUSIONS:

The continuing occurrence of asbestos-associated diseases and their substantial premature mortality burden underscore the need for maintaining prevention efforts and for ongoing surveillance to monitor temporal trends in these diseases.

For more information about this unfortunate situation, see Mesothelioma, Asbestos, and Legal Compensation: Basic Facts over at our Asbestos-Mesothelioma.com website.


 

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Surgical Procedure Is Good Treatment Option For Patients With Certain Type Of Malignant Pleural Mesothelioma (MPM) According To New Medical Study

The following comes from a December 2013 news article, “Chest wall resection effective for recurrent mesothelioma”, about some recent medical research findings published in The Journal of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery:

Salvage chest wall resection could lengthen survival in patients with isolated chest wall recurrence of malignant pleural mesothelioma (MPM), research indicates.

MPM is an aggressive malignancy with a poor prognosis and few effective treatment options, the researchers note. But in their study, 47 patients who underwent chest wall resection for recurrence a median of 16.1 months after initial cytoreductive surgery, the median overall survival was favorable, at 44.9 months.

Survival was greatest in patients with prolonged time to recurrence and those with the epithelial cell type.

“[O]ur results have indicated that for select patients with isolated chest wall recurrence of MPM, salvage [chest wall resection] (performed with an intent to cure) is an effective strategy,” say the researchers David Sugarbaker (Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA) and colleagues.

We will continue to monitor the medical journals and related news reports for developments concerning treatment of the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma.


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From Australia, Possible New Malignant Mesothelioma Medical Treatment Development Reported In Late 2013

We recently found this Australian Broadcast Corporation (ABC) News report, “‘Ray of hope’ for sufferers of asbestos disease mesothelioma”, which indicates there may be a new treatment for future mesothelioma victims. From this November 2013 report:

A new treatment for the asbestos-related disease, mesothelioma, is offering a ray of hope to victims of the deadly cancer, researchers say.

The Asbestos Diseases Research Institute in Sydney has published the results of laboratory testing of a novel genetic treatment in the international Journal Oncology.

The treatment uses bacterial mini cells which have no genetic information to carry messenger cells, or micro RNA, into mesothelioma tumours.

The mini cells are protected with a coating of anti-bodies that protect them on the way to the target.

Scientists say it appears to be halting the growth of cancer in animals.

“Over the course of the experiment, which was about a month in duration, we found that the tumours didn’t increase in size at all,” said senior researcher Doctor Glen Reid.

Dr Reid says low levels of micro RNAs in mesothelioma cells could be contributing to the rapid growth of the cancer.

“We find that the growth of the tumours is strongly repressed,” he said.

“So this is quite an exciting discovery, that micro RNA’s themselves can inhibit the growth of a tumour in an animal.”

This ABC news article goes on to point out that, as you may know, unfortunately peopled diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma “are given an average life expectancy of one year, and current treatments only extend that to 15 months”.

Lastly, Dr. Reid said as regards the progress of this possible new mesothelioma treatment, “the whole testing process could take four or more years”.


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More Lawsuits Being Filed For People With Lung Cancer Who Worked With Or Around Asbestos-Containing Products Years Ago

In November 2012 we wrote this article, “Asbestos Lung Cancer Cases:  Number Of Filed Lawsuits Increasing Across The U.S.”

Now, a year later, we get confirmation there is a growing number of lawsuits concerning lung cancer related to asbestos exposure from this November 2013 report found at the Business Insurance website, “Asbestos, environmental insurance claim losses up 12% in 2012:  Best”:

Asbestos and environmental insurance claim losses increased in 2012 due to a rising number of asbestos-related lung cancer lawsuits, A.M. Best Co. Inc. said Monday.

The Oldwick, N.J.-based rating agency said annual asbestos and environmental insurance losses rose 12% last year, compared with a 31% decrease in 2011.  Best estimated that as of December 2012, the U.S. property/casualty industry faced $85 billion in net ultimate asbestos losses, up from the agency’s 2011 estimate of $75 billion.

“This comes amid a rising number of lung cancer lawsuits related to asbestos and evolving mass tort exposures on the environmental side,” Best said in a statement.

Likewise, at our law firm we are hearing from more people who worked with or around asbestos-containing products long ago that have been diagnosed with lung cancer many years later (due to the latency period, or delay, between asbestos exposure and cancer diagnosis).


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