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Asbestos Defendants in Bankruptcy Court Deny Harm

You have to hand it to asbestos defendants battling against claims of liability for mesothelioma: They will deny liability to the point of absurdity in an effort to avoid paying damages to those they have harmed. gavel2.jpg

Our Boston mesothelioma lawyers understand that most recently, a consortium of companies in the midst of Chapter 11 bankruptcies due to thousands of pending mesothelioma claims is now attempting to raise doubt about their liability.

We know that asbestos is the direct and only known cause of mesothelioma. This is a fact. However, these companies – Bondex International Inc., RPM International Inc. and Specialty Products Holding Corp. – are attempting to raise doubts about whether the compound they used, called Chrysotile asbestos, is as harmful as regular asbestos.

The argument was raised at an estimation trial in Pittsburgh, where the bankruptcy judge is attempting to determine how much money the companies should be made to set aside for current and future mesothelioma claims. The establishment of bankruptcy trusts is a common way that larger companies at the center of hundreds or thousands of asbestos lawsuits can continue to operate without having to contend day-to-day with potentially decades of litigation and associated costs.

Chrysotile asbestos, sometimes referred to as “white asbestos,” accounts for about 95 percent of the asbestos that’s currently in place in the U.S. Last year, the Department of Population Health Sciences in the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin conducted an extensive study on Chrysotile mesothelioma, amid numerous claims that it doesn’t actually cause pleural or peritoneal mesothelioma. The researchers concluded that Chrysotile asbestos – along with all other forms of asbestos – has caused mesothelioma. The scientists went on to say that a worldwide ban is necessary in order to halt the epidemic of mesothelioma.

And yet, a Canadian epidemiologist was brought to testify on behalf of the defendants in this bankruptcy proceeding that Chrysotile asbestos is “much less likely” to cause mesothelioma and that this product alone doesn’t lead to mesothelioma. He testified in fact that it “hardly ever” leads to mesothelioma deaths.

Not only is this blatantly wrong, it makes no sense. If 95 percent of the asbestos used over the last 50 years was not dangerous and didn’t cause mesothelioma, we wouldn’t be seeing cases reported in such high volume.

It’s noteworthy, though, that the doctor testified he had only reviewed a small sampling of the claims against the companies and even in those cases, he wasn’t given access to examine the actual lung samples to presumably say that something other than Chrysotile asbestos caused their mesothelioma.

The doctor said that while he had never conducted or published a study on the matter, he said he came to his conclusion with several decades of “practical applicability.” He went on to say that published academics sometimes get it wrong, and may be no more reliable than any other researcher.

We might beg to differ.

It’s a weak argument, at best, and an outright fabrication at worst. We hope the bankruptcy judge will see through the ruse.

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in New England, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:
Bondex expert testifies ‘Chrysotile’ joint compound not likely cause of mesothelioma, Jan. 8, 2013, By Jon Campisi, Legal Newsline Legal Journal
More Blog Entries:
An Attempt to Revive Thousands of Old Asbestos Cases, Jan. 9, 2013, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyers Blog