Friable Thoughts

Monday, August 29, 2005

Legal firms fight bill ending asbestos claims

The local plaintiff's bar has raised $435,000 for ads to fight the trust fund bill. You'd think they'd come up with more given their livelihood is at stake. I'm sure the conservative senators they've targeted with the ads will surely change their minds because of the ads (sarcasm off). But, now that the Senate is coming back from the August recess, we'll find out just how effective they truly were.

Friday, August 26, 2005

U.S. asbestos fund could fall short-budget office

This sober (and very obvious) conclusion from the Congressional Budget Office might put the stake through the heart of the trust fund bill. Now, it raises the possibility that the fund isn't big enough which means that some won't get paid, the federal government would have to bail it out or those that don't get paid by the fund go back to court. Not a very desirable list of options for something so darn expensive and complicated.

Now, no one really has an idea how many claims will be made on the fund or how much it will cost. But, if history is a decent guide, isn't it darn likely that the politicians have underestimated the costs?

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Frye motion could be magic bullet for asbestos defense

Plaintiff's lawyers in New York get sanctioned for disclosing expert witnesses when they already knew, or should have known, they didn't have a case. Strange that a co-worker's testifmony could have been the basis of the knowledge unless it was something very foundational, like whether the decedent was ever around the defendant's product. Sounds like the plaintiff's lawyers were trying to bluff some settlement money and got called on it.

Source: Madison County Record

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Asbestos Trust Fund Calculator

The Coalition for Asbestos Reform has a calculator to estimate the costs of the trust fund for businesses. So, Senator Spector really didn't need to subpoena all those businesses to determine how much they would have to pay, right? Time to play with it and see if the numbers really add up. I'm thinking it'll be biased toward the high side given the CAR's opposition.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Verdicts in Louisiana and New Jersey

A railroad workers gets $20 million in New Jersey and a Louisiana paper mill worker gets $4.5 million from his employer. I guess they don't have a worker's compensation exclusion in Louisiana.

Monday, August 15, 2005

EPA Drops Plan For Asbestos Panel

After promising the folks in El Dorado that they'd form a panel to study the effects of naturally occurring asbestos, the EPA has changed its mind. Now, they're going to take some risk assessment tests. If I lived in El Dorado, I would not be happy about it but it's unlikely that a panel would prevent anyone from getting sick either. However, hire a lawyer and sue a whole bunch of folks, you just might get a whole bunch of "scientific" studies much quicker.

Monday, August 08, 2005

New Jersey couple gets $10M in asbestos case

A New Jersey supplier gets hit for $10 million in a living mesothelioma case. Article doesn't say what the man did for a living though he did work at a place calls Suburban Fuel. Otherwise, it's hard to say whether this is a "big" verdict or a small one though $10 million seems like a good number. Also it is unclear how much of that verdict is attributed to the supplier.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Silica Case Seen as Breakthrough

Are you a doctor who screens plaintiffs in mass tort cases for plaintiff's firms? Be careful because the Chamber of Commerce is coming for you.

Defense lawyers in asbestos litigation have long complained about these doctors for years but now it appears someone might be doing something about it. While it might be too late for asbestos, it might be useful in deterring questionable expert testimony in other new toxic tort claims. If this effort is useful in getting judges to put some teeth back into Daubert, it will be a good thing.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

After $140 billion is gone asbestos will come right back to state courts, say Democrats

Senate Democrats opposing the trust fund think the fund is, well, underfunded and that it will run out of money and not do what it is supposed to do: keep asbestos cases out of the courts. Discounting the fact that they have received large amounts of money from the plaintiff's bar, they may actually be right. Even some Republicans are concerned about the fund's solvency, though they think it's insolvent because the standards are too lax rather than the fund too small.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

EPA to Test New Way to Remove Asbestos

Can you remove asbestos without the Tyvek sheeting and the air suckers? If so, demolition of asbestos-laden buildings will be much cheaper. If not, back to square one.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Study: Natural asbestos risks low

Right now, it seems exposure to asbestos in nature isn't so bad as the man-made kind. I wonder if that makes plaintiff's lawyers feel better, worse or just darn indifferent?