mesothelioma


According to a story in the Missoulian, the US Supreme Court has denied the appeals of W.R. Grace and six of the companies’ executives who were trying to avoida criminal trial on charges that they violated the Clean Air Act by unleashing asbestos dust on the community of Libby, Montana, home to the W.R. Grace vermiculite mine. 

The Grace executives were indicted in 2005 for knowingly exposing the mine workers, as well as Libby residents.  To date 300 to 400 residents of Libby have died from asbestos related illnesses, and hundreds of other residents currently suffer from asbestos related disease.  The diseases caused by asbestos include mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining surrounding the lung called the pleura; various other cancers, including lung cancer; and asbestosis, a scarring of the lungs caused by exposure to asbestos.

Grace’s appeal centered on the argument that the EPA’s definition of asbestos didn’t include the asbestos fibers found in their vermiculite mine in Libby.  According to an article on the history of the mine, W.R. Grace bought the mine in 1963.  A month after the purchase was complete, a W.R. Grace executive wrote a memo stating that there was asbestos present at the mine and opined about possible ways to market the stuff. 

Throughout the 1960’s Grace conducted x-rays on employees and by 1969 over 60% of their work force was found to have abnormal x-rays evidencing asbestos exposure.  In addition, the local medical community in Libby told the company workers were getting sick.  Grace also conducted its own studies which found that the asbestos in the vermiculite caused asbestosis and cancer.

Grace executives could stand trial as early as this fall.

 

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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. 

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. 

Story on Yahoo News regarding the Dana bankruptcy.  Dana manufactured asbestos containing products, including Victor gaskets.  The company went into bankruptcy in 2006.  Dana claims to have $240 million in cash and assets to cover future asbestos liabilities. 

The company made an agreement with a group of over 7,000 asbestos victims to settle their claims for $2,000,000.  A group representing tens of thousands of asbestos victims has filed an objection to Dana’s proposed bankruptcy plan, arguing that the company has not set aside enough to cover its asbestos liabilities.

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