December 7, 2006

Asbestos: Fraud That Makes Enron Look Like Petty Theft

Filed under: Corporate Outrage,Scams,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:19 am

The money involved: Tens of billions.

The fraud: Filing claims against multiple asbestos trusts on behalf of the same claimant, making up different stories about how the claimant was harmed by asbestos.

A judge has caught on to the scam, but it is not at all clear that lawyers and other involved in the double (and more) dipping will ever get the punishment they deserve.

Read it and weep.

___________________________

UPDATE: Also covering — Blue Crab Boulevard, Joust the Facts, Maggie’s Farm.

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12 Comments

  1. Corruption Class Action Style…

    One aspect the WSJ didn’t mention is that Loews Corporation owns Lorillard Tobacco and CNA Insurance. In 2001, CNA increased its asbestos reserves by more than $1 billion as a result of ongoing litigation surrounding a policy CNA wrote for W. R. Gra…

    Trackback by Sensible Mom — December 7, 2006 @ 2:43 pm

  2. I can’t believe this is such a worlwide problem. In the UK, the Health and Safety Executive (a body which is in place to so-called “Protect the People” according to their motto), is protecting local governments by not prosecuting them when it comes to asbestos disputes, is actually not investigating deliberate contamination to the public.

    Comment by Jason Davis — December 8, 2006 @ 7:26 am

  3. #2, I think you’re telling me that you’d like more prosecution and asbestos trusts. Virtually no one who used asbestos had any idea of the dangers at the time, and certainly not the downstream customers. To hold them jointly and severally liable, meaning that they’re “responsible” for situations they had nothing to do with, as has occurred in the States, is an outrage. You don’t want that. The “cure” here has been worse than the disease.

    Comment by TBlumer — December 8, 2006 @ 10:42 am

  4. I’d like the HSE to prosecute across the board. If prosecution is to seen as some sort of deterent then what sort of message is it sending out to the construction tades. The things with my case is, the head of housing at the time, who lied in a television interview about the removal saying it was SAFE, is married to the local MP. In other word, every time I tried to get the press to print my accusations, they refused on legal grounds. Yet I could prove it. I still find it hard to believe so many types of scam are still occuring when it comes to asbestos. Those that do get harmed don’t get the justice they deserve, and those that benefit from those that get harmed abuse the system. What a swindle.

    Comment by Jason Davis — December 8, 2006 @ 10:58 am

  5. #4, Okay I’m clearer now. You’re saying the REMOVAL process is corrupt. The lawsuits in the states where the legal swindling is occurring, and the subject of this post, have to do with people who worked INSTALLING or MANUFACTURING asbestos many years ago.

    The REMOVAL process in the states is extremely tedious, time-consuming, highly-regulated, and probably has to be. If that’s not the case in the UK, i.e., if people are getting seriously ill as a result of the REMOVAL process, that would be a serious problem.

    Comment by TBlumer — December 8, 2006 @ 11:17 am

  6. The worst bit is, it’s local government who is allowed to illegally remove it. Private companies are chased down and sometime even go bankrupt because of fines imposed by the HSE. But local governments are being protected by them. In one case a head teacher of a school is being sued by the HSE although the local authority is responsible for the schools. A clear cut case of scape-goating.

    I’ve been biting at the city councils heels for the last 3 years. If they screw with me, I’ll screw with them! :)

    Comment by Jason Davis — December 8, 2006 @ 7:08 pm

  7. #6, I would think the recent changes in libel law in the UK (sorry, don’t have a link) might make it easier to get the press’s attention with this. I would also consider finding an English online blog to pay attention to this. In your case, a local one run by a reasonably known person would seem to be the best idea.

    Comment by TBlumer — December 8, 2006 @ 10:21 pm

  8. http://www.oxfordshireforums.co.uk/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=37478

    you mean like this one?

    People really don’t care that much unless it happens to them. The are I live in contains a few hundred of the same types of housing, which over the last 20 years, have all had their windows replaced in the same way. Auch!

    Comment by Jason Davis — December 8, 2006 @ 11:06 pm

  9. By the way, unless I can prove my familys health has been damaged there is nothing I can do. You can’t take anyone to court in a maybe. My whole family, my son aged 3, my partners kids 12 and 16 ad my partner and I lived with the dust and even swept the stuff up after they had finished. 5 weeks later tests were carried out on the floors, door frames and power outlets. All of them had traces of Brown Asbestos on them. Flakes littered my front garden and kitchen floor. Nice huh?

    Comment by Jason Davis — December 8, 2006 @ 11:11 pm

  10. #8 and #9, on the assumption that your family’s health has been damaged and that it’s difficult to trace it to what you describe — all I can say is that there ought to be recourse, just not the virtual lottery that it’s turned into in the US.

    Comment by TBlumer — December 8, 2006 @ 11:37 pm

  11. Our law firm, Brayton Purcell, wrote a letter to the Wall Street Journal about their article. The Journal published it at
    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB116831503614871064.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

    The text of that letter follows:
    A Death by Mesothelioma
    January 9, 2007; Page B10
    In response to the Dec. 5 editorial-page commentary “Trusts Busted” by Kimberley Strassel: In June of 2000, Harry Kananian died of mesothelioma, a rare cancer of the lining of the lungs, caused only by past exposure to asbestos fibers. Prior to his death, a personal injury lawsuit was filed on his behalf in California.

    A number of companies that made or sold asbestos-containing products were named as defendants, including Lorillard Tobacco Co.

    During the pendency of the California asbestos personal injury case, Mr. Kananian’s attorneys also submitted a number of claims to several bankruptcy trusts based on Mr. Kananian’s probable past exposure to asbestos-containing products manufactured or sold by the bankrupt companies.

    His personal injury case in California terminated by law upon his death. Thereafter a wrongful death case was filed in California and later re-filed in Ohio on behalf of his heirs. Lorillard Tobacco was again named as a defendant in these wrongful death actions.

    The allegations leveled against the defendant companies, including Lorillard, in both California and Ohio have been entirely consistent. At all times, plaintiffs have asserted that it was the cumulative dose of asbestos inhaled by Mr. Kananian from all sources that caused his mesothelioma.

    Lorillard, in conscious disregard for the health and safety of its customers, incorporated a particularly lethal form of asbestos fiber into its Kent “Micronite” cigarette filters from 1952-1956.

    Unfortunately, Mr. Kananian switched to Kent after hearing and seeing that Lorillard’s advertising touted the health benefits of Kent cigarettes over other brands. As a consequence he inhaled lethal quantities of asbestos fiber each time he smoked a Kent cigarette between 1952-1956.

    Because medically and legally the actual asbestos fibers that contributed to cause Mr. Kananain’s mesothelioma cannot be individually identified, Mr. Kananian (and his family after his death) as well as other persons injured by asbestos exposure are entitled to seek damages from all of the probable sources of their asbestos exposure.

    Seeking damages from all of the companies who profited from the sale of this deadly material is not “double dipping,” but rather is entirely proper under our system of civil jurisprudence to ensure full and complete compensation for injuries or death caused by an individual’s cumulative past exposure to asbestos.

    The bankruptcy claims submitted by Brayton Purcell in the Kananian matter contained accurate information regarding Mr. Kananian’s past exposure to asbestos insulation products made Johns Manville, the bankrupt entity involved.

    To the extent that the claim form originally submitted to the Manville Trust contained some minor inaccuracies, the bulk of the information provided in the form was accurate. An amended claim form was submitted to the Manville trust only to ensure that these minor mistakes were corrected.

    Neither the Manville Trust nor any other bankruptcy trust has requested return of the payments previously made to the Kananian family. No objection or protest has been lodged by these trusts in connection with either the original or amended claim forms submitted in this matter.

    Mr. Kananian’s family members are entitled to this compensation because of his probable past exposure to these bankrupt companies’ asbestos containing products, his subsequent contraction of an asbestos caused cancer and his death from that disease.

    I would hope the Journal could be more concerned with compensation of innocent people unwittingly exposed and injured by this deadly material rather than leveling unfounded allegations that somehow the attorneys representing these victims are trying to “double dip.”

    Mark B. Abelson
    San Francisco
    (Mr. Abelson is an attorney representing Brayton Purcell.)

    Comment by Laura — January 12, 2007 @ 5:11 pm

  12. #11 – I’m sorry, I don’t buy joint and several liablity and never will. You’ve even admitted that the companies only “probably” exposed him — but that in your opinion they should “definitely” pay. Give, me, a, break.

    Comment by TBlumer — January 12, 2007 @ 7:38 pm

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