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View Diary: Asbestos Bill to re-surface in the Senate (32 comments)

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  •  Well........... (none)
    I have seen many cases where a doctor hired by the plaintiff's firm will diagnose asbestosis (in the back of a van), but the patient will go see his or her own long-time treating doctor who will say the diagnosis is bullshit.

    Give me a break - there's also hundreds of examples of where a local doctor wasn't qualified to diagnose or mis-diagnosed asbestosis as something else.  Libby is the clearest example of this

    I handled hundreds of asbestos cases, and saw maybe 2 or 3 plaintiffs who were actually sick and who were not heavy smokers.  The problem is that people who were exposed to asbestos all worked in the trades or in blue-collar jobs, and in the 50s, 60s and 70s, when asbestos was everywhere, all of these people smoked.

    First off - if you "handled" hundreds of asbestos cases and only 2 or 3 were really sick, then you need help drafting your MSJ's.  Sounds like you're wrong.  

    Secondly - Smoking doesn't cause asbestos related disease.  That's why it's not called smoking related disease.

    Asbestosis - yeah - it's a form of pneumoconosis.  Guess what?  It's also NOT CAUSED BY SMOKING

    Mesothelioma - yeah Selikoff found a synergistic effect in the 60s - but without asbestos, there is no meso.  

    You said exactly what I was saying.

    •  Fair points, but (none)
      • The local docs may have not know what they were doing, but the van-based docs are shameless.  There was just a case in Texas where the judge tossed out a bunch of Silicosis cases on that basis.

      • I have broutht (and won) a lot of summary judgment motions, and have also settled a lot of cases for $500 or $1000 because the Plaintiffs had no impairment.

      • No, smoking doesn't cause asbestos disease, but the symptoms are the same. I have been to a lot of depositions where 60-year old overweight 2-pack a day smokers complain they get tired when they go up a flight of stairs.  Sounds like you are an attorney, so you have been to these too.  The problem is mostly cigarettes and diet, and not asbestos.

      • I agree with Seilikoff that you need asbestos to get Meso, but without the smoking, the chances of getting it are much smaller.

      Look, I oppose the settlement in its current form.  And I have been to enough end-stage meso living room depositions to see the damage asbestos can do.  But the tort system now is fucked.  The big, at fault companies are now home free and the smaller companies pay.  And whether plaintiffs can recover is not based on their illness, but who they can prove claims agaisnt.  If a Plaintiff worked with the wrong products, he may get nothing even though he was sick.  Relatively healthy plaintiffs with good liability may do well.  That's not fair at all.  

      It takes a second to wreck it. It takes time to build.

      by lando on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 02:44:40 PM PST

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      •  You're both wrong (none)
        1. There is no synergistic effect between asbestos and smoking that results in mesothelioma. The synergism only results in lung cancer. Cigarette smoking has no effect on whether or not one develops mesothelioma.

        2. Screenings were a good idea in the 1970's and early '80's when employers refused to disclose the results of their employee's physicals to them, and most general practitioners were unfamiliar with occupational diseases. The workers turned to their unions, who hired legitimate drs. and scientists and contributed greatly  to the understanding of asbestos disease. These early screenings  saved some lives through both early detection and by raising the awareness of asbestos disease, resulting in many people avoiding asbestos.

        However, screenings are no longer helpful. Asbestos companies and contractors are now legally required to give employees their own medical records. Most internists, if informed by a patient that he has had exposure to asbestos, will be able to recognize early disease syptoms. Screenings now are unproductive, since they cause overcrowded dockets and force people with unimpaired asbestos disease to file suit because if they don't, and their disease worsens, their statute of limitations will have expired.

        As far as the tort system being unfair in asbestos cases because of the difference in value based upon whose products are at fault, isn't that true of any case? if I get run over and injured by a  bankrupt homeless woman driving an uninsured beater, I'm not going to get much in damages. If I get run over by Bill Gates driving a company car, my recovery of damages will be greater. My injuries are the same in each case, but I'm just not going to recover from the homeless woman. It's not a reason to throw out the whole system.

        •  Asbestos (none)
          1.  I googled meso and smoking and found a number of sites that say what you are saying.  They all use pretty much the same language, so I wonder if there was a new study or something.   I have seen research and testimony to the contrary.  I'll have to take a more in-depth look.

          2. Agree about screenings

          3.  I think its different with abestos tort suits because the liability is totally arbitrary.  Lets say you have an insulator who was exposed to tons of pipecovering, but the manufacturer, supplier and contractor are bankrupt.  So their responsibility is ignored.  The only other party they can identify is a gasket supplier, who sold the three asbestos gaskets they changed over the course of their career.   If the gasket manufacturer is bankrupt too, the gasket supplier will take the hit.   Minnesota has joint and several liability, so (with some limitations) the fault of the bankrupt entities gets re-allocated to the supplier, who gets the big verdict against it.  Now everyone knows that 99.99 percent of the exposure came from pipecovering, but it doesn't matter.  The liability all goes to the gasket supplier.   What sucks is that the gasket supplier is still a viable entity that employs people, but will eventually go under through no fault of its own.

          For car accidents, you have Uninsured motorist coverage and Underinsured motorist coverage, and in Minnesota, no-fault coverage.  Its exremely rare that someone is completely shut out.  I have seen meso cases where all the defendants get out on SJ because the plaintiff just doesn't remember enough specifics about what he was doing 40 years ago.

          If a fair compensation system could be worked out, it would cut out the lawyers, who (on both sides) have made a killing on this.  The defense lawyers don't want the gravy train to end any more than the Plaintiff's lawyers do.   (This is why I blog anonymously)  

          It takes a second to wreck it. It takes time to build.

          by lando on Wed Jan 25, 2006 at 08:50:23 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

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