The well-known asbestos defendant Georgia Pacific is the subject of a second recent investigative report concerning what appears to be “questionable” medical and legal tactics as regards seeking to avoid liability in asbestos-mesothelioma cases.
Just a month ago we posted here this story “Asbestos Defendant Georgia Pacific: The Potential Legal ‘Crime-Fraud’ Situation Involving Professor Ken Donaldson And GP In-house Litigation Counsel” about a disturbing legal situation in some asbestos lawsuits that involve Georgia Pacific as a defendant.
Now, from an October 2013 article by Jim Morris for The Center for Public Integrity we learn more about how Georgia Pacific (GP) sought to evade paying legal compensation to workers who contracted mesothelioma, lung cancer, or asbestosis after working with or around GP asbestos-containing products.
In the spring of 2005, Georgia-Pacific Corp. found itself facing nearly $1 billion in liability from a product it hadn’t made in nearly three decades: a putty-like building material, known as joint compound, containing the cancer-causing mineral asbestos.
Named in more than 60,000 legal claims, Atlanta-based Georgia-Pacific sought salvation in a secret research program it launched in hopes of exonerating its product as a carcinogen, court records obtained by the Center for Public Integrity show. It hired consultants known for their defense work to conduct studies and publish the results, with input from the company’s legal department — and is attempting to keep key information hidden from plaintiffs.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission had banned all asbestos-containing joint compound as of 1978, and Georgia-Pacific, maker of a widely used version called Ready-Mix, had raised no objection. But in 2005, as asbestos-related diseases with long latency periods mounted, the company revisited the issue with one aim: to defend lawsuits filed by people like Daniel Stupino, a part-time renovation worker who died last year of mesothelioma, a form of cancer virtually always caused by asbestos exposure.
Under its research program, Georgia-Pacific paid 18 scientists a collective $6 million, documents show. These experts were directed by Georgia-Pacific’s longtime head of toxicology, who was “specially employed” by the company’s in-house counsel to work on asbestos litigation and was under orders to hold “in the strictest confidence” all information generated.
The article points out some obvious parallels between these medical and legal manipulations by Georgia Pacific in the asbestos-mesothelioma litigation and the blatant “research” misconduct of major tobacco companies many years ago.
Certainly, this article about Georgia Pacific published by The Center for Public Integrity is worth a read by anyone who has an interest in how some corporations seek to hide from accountability when sued by people who have been harmed by products the company made and sold for a profit.
A hat-tip to Jim Morris and The Center for Public Integrity for a job well done.
Asbestos-Mesothelioma Case Evaluation Form
Free. Confidential. No Obligation.