Friable Thoughts

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Asbestos Bill Will Have Its Day, But Chances Of Passing Are Slim

Predicting the mood of Congress from California can be a bit too speculative but if this article is correct, then the trust fund bill is headed for ignominious defeat from bipartisan opposition in January. The article claims even Senator Feinstein, who supported the bill in the Judiciary Committee, may change her mind. It's like 2004 all over again.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Reading X-Rays in Asbestos Suits Enriched Doctor

A New York Time profile of notorious B-reader, Ray A. Harron, at once illustrates the major problem with asbestos litigation and asbestos reform. The good doctor did himself no favors making finding of silicosis on some of the same folks he found asbestosis. Now, a judge at trial should be able to sort bad readings from good ones. But, very few defendants risk going to trial especially with some of the judges in certain "plaintiff friendly" venues.

A no-fault trust fund (and especially a medical criteria alternative) would have to quickly and efficiently weed out bad claims from the valid claims, something the current litigation-based system hasn't been able to do. And, if the Bates-White study is correct, it won't.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Dueling Numbers on Asbestos Claims

This post over at the Statistical Assessment Service discusses the assumptions underlying the debate over whether the asbestos fund will have enough money to cover all the claims. It dismisses the use of past lawsuit filings or bankruptcy trust fund filings as a guide to how many people would make a hypothetical claim on the fund and believes that the Bates-White assumption is the most accurate, which is based on the prevalence of asbestos-related illnesses in the future.

If that was true, the fund would be more than enough so long as it properly excluded cancer cases not related to asbestos. But, the Bates-White study assumes that since the fund is a no fault system, anyone with cancer and some exposure to asbestos could file a claim and get paid. If that's the case, then there won't be anywhere near enough money.

I suspect that Congress won't be able to provide an easy way to sort out the valid asbestos-related cancer claims from the invalid ones. Heck, the current system chock full of judges, lawyers and doctors is having enough problems sorting that one out. Would politicians be any better?

Monday, November 07, 2005

U.S. hearing planned on projected asbestos claims

The Senate Judiciary Committee wants to know if the trust fund is big enough. They also hope to determine if cancer victims, who don't normally file asbestos lawsuits, might file claims with the trust fund. If they do, the fund probably will go bust and real fast. One would think that they could set the standards to exclude bogus claims but given that our current system has problems sorting out valid and invalid claims, don't hold your breath.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

New Jersey plaintiff's asbestos case kicked out of Madison County

Imagine someone who never worked or lived in Illinois having a case heard in Madison County. Well, now those days are gone. What a concept, that venue thing. Too bad the plaintiff will have to file her wrongful death case in that defendant's haven of New Jersey. What is this world coming to?

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Court Denies Liability for (Paraoccupational) Asbestos Exposure

This decision from the New York Court of Appeals is surprising. The court just refused to recognize a duty owed to a spouse of an employee even though it may have been foreseeable. The court called plaintiff's theory "novel". The defendant is this case is lucky they're not in California. More on the case here.