Friday, February 13, 2015

The Truth Behind the FACT Act

Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen, a non-profit, consumer rights advocacy group and think tank based in D.C., shared some facts regarding the so-called “Furthering Asbestos Claims Transparency Act” (FACT Act) in an article published in Huffington Post this week.

“Astoundingly, the corporate advocates for this legislation try to portray themselves as victims of asbestos litigation.”

FACT supporters would have you believe that asbestos companies, which made untold millions selling deadly products for much of the last century, are being “victimized” and “ganged-up” upon by attorneys representing the persons who were injured or killed. Mr. Weissman reveals, however, that lobbyists representing the asbestos industry and its insurers outnumber asbestos victim advocates by seven-to-one. Of the top 50 lobbying entities most frequently mentioning asbestos, 1,362 of the mentions are from those associated with the asbestos industry, while only 186 of the mentions are from those associated with lawyers representing asbestos victims or labor unions.

“With insurers and asbestos-using companies outdistancing asbestos victim advocates by a seven-to-one margin, the disparity in insider political power is evident.”

Then there is the fact that the largest asbestos lobbyist is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce followed in no particular order by Koch Industries, Chubb Insurance, Ford Motor Company and WR Grace. Companies under the Koch “umbrella” and Ford are some of the most commonly-named defendants in asbestos cases. Not due to fraud, as they would have you believe, but due to the fact that they knowingly sold products that would cause many users to suffer painful and untreatable illness. The FACT Act is simply the latest effort to avoid responsibility for their grave and callous acts.

Mr. Weissman nails it with his closing thought; “It's hard to imagine that America would pay back the victims of a horrendous corporate cover-up by invading their privacy and victimizing them yet again.” 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Just As The Use of Asbestos Continues, So Does Corporate Wrongdoing

A Letter from Linda Lipsen to the Editor of the New York Times (Feb. 6, 2015)

Re “NewYork’s Real Scandal,” by Joe Nocera (column, Jan. 31):

For years, the asbestos industry has promoted the myth that asbestos is no longer an issue for the American public in order to make the case that it shouldn’t be held accountable today for the wrongdoings of the past.

Mr. Nocera played right into its hands when he wrote that it is a “sensible” notion that juries should not be allowed to fine asbestos corporations with punitive damages because “companies stopped making asbestos products” and there is “no behavior to correct.”

While certain asbestos products and uses have been prohibited, many others are still permitted; imports into our country continue; and throughout the world people are exposed to this toxin in their homes, workplaces and schools. It was reported in August 2014 that asbestos is currently being promoted in Asia as a product for the poor. One international asbestos executive commented that his asbestos was so safe you could eat it “for breakfast, lunch and dinner!”

Just as the use of asbestos continues, so does corporate wrongdoing. Recently, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit allowed asbestos victims to proceed with claims that an asbestos corporation and its lawyers destroyed evidence that showed its product contained asbestos.

It is essential for public health that the continuing dangers of asbestos are acknowledged and myths are not perpetuated in an effort to help the asbestos industry evade accountability.



Linda Lipsen is chief executive of the American Association for Justice, an organization that advocates on behalf of trial lawyers and their clients.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Read All About It! The WLAVA Unfurls Its Meso Program for Veterans

It’s up!

The Veteran’s Administration’s website has been updated. Veterans with mesothelioma and asbestos-related lung cancer can now arm themselves with the tools they need to fight back.

Click here to learn more about the Comprehensive Mesothelioma Treatment and Research Program at the West Los Angeles VA.

This is a first. Since 1998, the WLAVA has partnered with UCLA Medical School to develop rational strategies to treat mesothelioma. Unfortunately, very few veterans outside of Los Angeles knew about the alliance, as the VA didn’t publicize the program (or fund it).

Today, thanks to the tireless efforts of the John Johnson family, as well as the perseverance of Dr. Robert Cameron, the VA has finally acknowledged the program publicly. This is a giant and long-overdue step in the right direction.

John Johnson’s story is well known. Mr. Johnson, a veteran, died from mesothelioma three years ago, almost to the day. When he died, the Johnson family vowed to help the VA build a nationwide mesothelioma program and publicize it so that other veterans could access specialized care on a timely basis.

This is a very special day. We have represented veterans with mesothelioma for over two decades. In nearly every case, family members have asked what they can do to reverse the Federal government’s apathy towards service-connected mesothelioma. They have inundated politicians and administrators with letters pleading for change. And now they have something to celebrate!

We want to thank all the veterans and their wives, sons and daughters for making their voices heard. We also want to single out Dr. Dean Norman, the Chief of Staff at the WLAVA.  Dr. Norman is faced with enormous challenges. Every year his workload gets heavier, while his budget gets lighter. Dr. Norman never made any excuses. He championed the Mesothelioma program from the git-go and has vowed to find the money to build it up.

Thanks again to all the doctors, nurses and staff at the WLAVA and UCLA who have never given up on their mesothelioma patients.


For more about information about lung-sparing surgery, cryoablation, immunotherapy, radiation therapy and the specialized approach to treating sarcomatoid mesothelioma offered at the WLAVA, please click here.