Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Nocera: Asbestos Litigation a Giant Scam // NY Times

The Asbestos Scam  - by Joe Nocera // NY Times
Congresswoman Carolyn Malony was diagnosed recently with lung cancer. She quit smoking - at 69, and filed suit against asbestos manufacturers - no tobacco companies. Joe Nocera is outraged. He claims the evidence of synergy (multiiplying effect) of smoking and asbestos exposure is based on "muddled science". As to insulation workers - that is clearly not correct. But the evidence is doubtless thinner as the asbestos exposure drops and the tobacco smoking increases. Twenty years ago the New Jersey Supreme Court authorized apportionment of causation between smoking and asbestos in the case Dafler v. Raymark Industries.

Nocera is quick to embrace attacks on litigation. He got caught short on BP when he wrongly declared Deepwater Horizon settlement administrator Patrick Juneau to have been a plaintiff's lawyer who hired corruptly. Wrong on both counts. I recall no Nocera apology when Juneau was cleared by former FBI Director Louis Freeh.  Here too Nocera should have done his homework and read something more than industry press releases before launching into his diatribe. - GWC

"[Congresswoman Malony's] "claim for “asbestos exposure” is that when she was young, her father and her brother worked as boiler makers, and she came into contact with asbestos dust because they all lived under the same roof. Plus, she says in her legal filing, she “visited and picked up my father and brother at the various work sites, including Navy Yards, Bridges, Hospitals, Schools, Powerhouses, and other sites where I breathed the asbestos dust.”Her lawyer at Weitz & Luxenberg — which has feasted for decades on asbestos lawsuits — told The New York Post that “it has been conclusively proven that cigarette smoking and asbestos exposure act synergistically to cause lung cancer.” Actually, it hasn’t been: There are plenty of studies saying there is no synergy at all. At best, the science is muddled.Not that that matters. No doubt McCarthy’s lawsuit will be bundled by her law firm with other cases to force a company that had nothing to do with her disease to pay up. I hope McCarthy wins her battle with lung cancer. It is an awful disease. But the right thing for her to do is drop this lawsuit. All it has really accomplished is showing how asbestos litigation is a giant scam."

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