lung cancer


According to a story on Law.com, the 4th District Court of Appeal in Florida, has ruled the state’s 2005 “Asbestos and Silica Compensation Act” unconstitutional.  The law barred claimants with non-malignant lung diseases and less than a 20 percent loss in breathing capacity from suing.  The law also barred claimants suffering from lung cancer, who did not also have asbestosis and diminished breathing capacity, from suing.  The court ruled the entire statute unconstitutional. 

One provision of the act applied the standards set up in the act retroactively to cases already filed in court.  Judge Gary Farmer wote in the decision that the Act “may not constitutionally be applied to eliminate the existing vested rights in the lawsuits pending when the act became effective” in 2005.  In effect, those who got sick before the law was passed had rights that had already accrued before the law went into effect, such that the legislature’s act of making the law retroactive made the statute unconstitutional. 

Another example of tort reform at work.  Tort reformers routinely take away rights of every day citizens, by pushing laws like the one cited above.  Laws that they know trample rights the constitution gives to you and I.  The next step is that the tort reformers then want to monkey around with the courts (appointment of judges. etc.), so that judges like the ones on the 4th Circuit who review these unconstitutional laws will rule that there is nothing wrong with trampling the constitutional rights of the citizens of this great country. 

This result was right and just, and protects average citizens – the tort reformers must be fuming. 

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Reuters reports that suit has been filed against CBS, the toy maker – Planet Toys, and retail toy sellers, regarding the “CSI Crime Scene Investigation” toy crime fighting kit.  The lawsuit alleges the fingerprint dusting powder contains deadly amounts of tremolite asbestos.

Asbestos is a known carcinogen.  It is a mineral that was used heavily in this country during the middle of the last century.  Asbestos was used as thermal insulation by workers in industrial plants and shipyards, and as a brake lining by mechanics in garages all across the US.  Asbestos was used in households across the country as well.  Vinyl flooring contained asbestos, joint compound used on sheetrook contained asbestos, popcorn on ceilings contained asbestos, and transite siding on the outside of houses contained asbestos.  There were even unfortunate areas of the country where asbestos was used to pave roads and driveways.  The death toll from asbestosis, a lung disease caused by asbestos, as well as asbestos related cancers such as lung cancer and mesothelioma is astronomical.

Planet Toys has issued a “stop sale” on their toys.  They claim that none of their testing on the toy was positive for asbestos.  The original testing, which found the asbestos in the product, was done by the non-profit Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization.  The ADAO filed suit to halt the sale of the toys and allow customers who purchased the toys to receive a refund. 

ACL and BorgWarner were found liable in the mesothelioma death of a New Jersey man, according to Newsday.com.  Mesothelioma is a deadly form of cancer, caused only by exposure to asbestos.  The jury took 4 hours to return the $30.3 million verdict.  The victim in this case was Mark Buttitta, a 50 year old resident of New Jersey.  He was exposed to asbestos working in General Motors warehouses during summers.  His father also worked in the warehouses.  Witnesses testified that Mark Buttitta was exposed to asbestos when he was a child, when he sat in his father’s lap while his father was wearing his dusty work clothes. 

According to a story in the Oklahoman, a jury in Oklahoma City awarded a woamn $10.8 million, for her bad faith claim on an American Fidelity cancer policy her son purchased.  Dolores Metger’s son, Michael Metzger, purchsed a cancer policy with American Fidelity in 1992.  The policy was to cover medical expenses in the event Michael was ever diagnosed with cancer.  In November 2004 Michael was diagnosed with cancer.  Michael passed away on January 4, 2005. 

When the expenses were submitted to the insurance company, they refused to pay the amount of actual medical expenses, claiming they should only pay the amount paid by Michael’s insurance company.  American Fidelity’s policy in 1992, when Michael purchsed his cancer policy, was to pay actual medical expenses, the amount the patient was billed, not the amount the medical insurer paid.  American Fidelity claimed they changed this policy in 1994 and only were responsible for the discounted health insurer amount. 

American Fidelity heavily marketed these cancer policies to teachers in Oklahoma.  Michael Metzger was an economist at the University of Central Oklahoma.  Speaking about Mrs. Metger, her attorney Tony Gould said “This was never about the money to her, she just wanted justice for Oklahoma educators.”   

Story on CNN about a new treatment strategy in the war on lung cancer. The process of staging tumors previously relied on a sampling of 5,000 tumors from M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, which was put together decades ago. Doctors use staging to guide treatment and predict odds of survival. It looks at the size and shape of the tumor, as well as where the tumor has spread.

Doctors have come up with a new way to stage, that uses 100,000 tumor samples from around the world. Doctors say the plan will move a good number of people from the non-operable category to the operable category. It appears that the new staging will refine the treatment options and give more aggressive treatment options to those who had little options before, and could give more targeted treatment to those with smaller tumors. Hopefully this will increase survival rates for all.

As a side note, the American Cancer Society has announced a change in their advertising strategy for the next year. The focus of their ad campaign will be the effect of the health care crisis on cancer mortality rates. Studies have shown that the lack of insurance leads to delays in detecting malignancies, which results in more cancer deaths. There is no doubt that improvements in the way we handle health insurance in this country will lead to less cancer deaths. People who can’t afford to go to the doctor often find out they have cancer too late. The ACS is doing a great thing.

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