Friday, June 28, 2013

The Greatest Escape Motorcycle Ride

Worthington & Caron, PC in association with Bartels' Harley-Davidson and Pacific Meso Center is proud to present The Greatest Escape, a memorial motorcycle ride to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Great Escape movie starring Steve McQueen, whose life was cut short at the age of 50 on November 7, 1980 by malignant peritoneal mesothelioma.

McQueen's story is well known. After his diagnosis in Los Angeles in 1979, McQueen eschewed conventional therapies for untested nostrums in Mexico, such as laetrile, coffee enemas and cow fetus injections. The Hollywood icon died soon after in 1980.

Join us Sunday, September 22, 2013 for a beautiful scenic ride on coastal Pacific Coast Highway beginning at Bartels’ Harley-Davidson in Marina Del Rey up to Sycamore Cove State Beach. The ride will be followed by a delicious tri-tip lunch from Muddy's BBQ and concert by the Johnny Cash Tribute Band, The Walking Phoenixes.

Mesothelioma Does Not
Respect Fame or Fortune
You could say that Worthington & Caron wrote the book on how asbestos killed Steve McQueen. In 2006, Roger Worthington interviewed his widow, Barbara McQueen.  Many have long speculated over where and how Steve McQueen was exposed to asbestos. Steve never testified in a deposition, but he did tell numerous reporters and friends about his asbestos exposure. Before he died, he was asked by a friend, who tape recorded the conversation, how he got his cancer. Steve's blunt answer spoke for itself: "asbestos poisoning in my lungs, which is rare." (Interview with Burgh Joy, clinical professor at UCLA, personal archives of Barbara McQueen, 1980).

In addition, to mark the 25th anniversary of his death, Roger donated the fee paid by a Hollywood movie production company for the use of his home to mesothelioma medical research. Roger donated the money equally between the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation ( and the Pacific Meso Center, which will conduct research in the Punch Worthington Laboratory.

Registration for single riders is $45 and $35 for passengers, which includes lunch, the concert and a commemorative pin and bandana. Registration for children under 12 is free and if you just want to come out for lunch and a show, tickets are $20.

100% of all proceeds will go to the Punch Worthington lab at UCLA and the Pacific Meso Centers lab on Santa Monica Blvd. for research and development of improved therapies for the treatment of malignant pleural mesothelioma.

For more information, sponsorship opportunities and to register please visit or contact Clare Cameron, Executive Director at 310-478-4678, or via email:, or Cherry Hepburn, Project Leader at 818-505-1104, or via email:

Friday, June 7, 2013

Susan Vento, Wife of Deceased Congressman and Mesothelioma Victim Bruce Vento, Expresses Her Strong Opposition to the So-Called “FACT Act”

Susan Vento lost her husband in October of 2000, just eight months after he had been diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. Susan’s husband was Democratic Congressman Bruce Vento of Minnesota who served as a United States Representative for 24 years and devoted his work in the government to environmental and homeless causes. When he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, he began championing asbestos victims’ rights and was committed to raising awareness for mesothelioma and the urgent need for research funding.

Recently, Susan and many others whose lives have been turned upside down by asbestos disease were eager to offer testimony to lawmakers in opposition to House Resolution 982, the “Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act”. They were told they would get the opportunity to do so, but instead Susan and the others were offered only a closed-door meeting with congressional staffers and were told they could offer written comments away from the press. This, of course, is a far cry from the public open hearing they were promised.

Undeterred, and intent to have her opinions and unique perspective on the legislation heard by lawmakers and the public, Susan authored an article that was published in the June 3, edition of Roll Call. The complete article can be seen here.

This isn’t the first time Susan has stood up for asbestos victim’s rights. In 2003 Susan took an active and vocal stance against legislation that attempted to create an industry-bankrolled trust fund to compensate sick workers and their families and would have taken away individual asbestos victims’ right to trial.

FACT Act sponsor Blake Farenthold repeatedly claims the purpose of the bill is to “avoid waste, fraud and abuse within the trust claim system in order to secure compensation for the ‘real’ victims of asbestos disease and not deplete the funds of the trusts for future victims.” Farenthold refers often to the Wall Street Journal’s ”investigative reporting” as if it had presented actual evidence of fraud, but as we discussed here, the so-called evidence falls far short.

Reading the transcript of the May 21, 2013 proceedings is angering. It is blatantly obvious and painfully clear that those in support of the bill are not defending the victims of asbestos disease, but are the hand puppets of corporate interests. It is important to remember that most of the “bankrupt asbestos companies” are still in business and, in many cases, very successful. The trusts were created under bankruptcy laws which allow companies to avoid liability for their dangerous products in exchange for partial payment to victims so that they can continue to operate as viable and profitable companies, as noted by consumer advocate Joan Claybrook in her refutation of the WSJ’s “investigative reporting” regarding the FACT Act.

In a letter to congress opposing HR 982, the Center for Justice and Democracy and the Alliance for Justice ask some very good questions. Wouldn’t a bill that is designed to increase transparency require equal disclosure of all settlement amounts by defendants as well? Shouldn’t this bill require asbestos defendants to disclose information about the history of exposures caused by their asbestos products?

Asbestos litigation is already an arduously painstaking process, the so-called transparency being sought by corporate-funded representatives is just the latest ploy to limit payouts and further prevent justice to suffering individuals. The legislation is one-sided, unfair and unnecessary.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Improper Renovations Involving Asbestos Expose Local Population

Our office is located in the historic downtown district of San Pedro, California and is home to some very beautiful and very old architecture. It was exciting a few days ago to notice new activity taking place a few doors down at the historic, art-deco style building that has been vacant for the past many years. Walking by to sneak a peek my curiosity ended when a cloud of dust came billowing out of the door. My trepidation increased as I saw workers without any respiratory protection carrying out loads of debris and my only thought was – asbestos!

With all of the homes and buildings constructed from the 1940s through the 1970s when usage of asbestos was at its peak, renovation and remodeling work frequently involves exposures to asbestos. However, given the cost of hiring professional asbestos abatement contractors, far too many property and homeowners seek to cut corners and have demolition work involving asbestos removal performed by cheap, unskilled laborers. Having the work done in this manner puts not only the laborers at great risk, but neighbors and passerbyers  are also exposed to the dust.

Asbestos waste is toxic waste and needs to be treated as such. When asbestos is removed and handled improperly you can bet it isn’t being disposed of safely. Dumping asbestos at the local landfill just further spreads the contamination. Asbestos must be disposed of in a landfill that is licensed and equipped to handle asbestos waste.

California Rule 902 requires that, prior to any demolition or renovation work, an inspection performed by a certified asbestos toxics and waste management professional must be completed. If asbestos is found to be present, asbestos control and abatement procedures must be followed and removal must be performed by trained and accredited asbestos professionals. These laws are in place to prevent asbestos from contaminating the environment and to protect those who could come in contact with the deadly mineral.

If you suspect asbestos is being mishandled you should contact the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Asbestos Hotline: (800) 368-5888 to file a confidential complaint, or visit the EPA’s website.

For information on safe handling practices for asbestos, click here.