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Happy Tort Lawyer’s Day!




|| By FITSNEWS ||  You’ve seen them on television … those annoying mass tort solicitations.  Complete with the 1990s-era clip art, game show host voiceovers and blaring, oft-repeated 1-800 number … they lay on thick the inhumane injustices, dire consequences and, of course, all those “operators standing by.”

More often than not, these ads focus on mesothelioma – a form of cancer tort lawyers insist is caused exclusively by the inhalation of asbestos fibers.

And maybe it is.  Maybe there’s a compelling case (or cases) to be made that mesothelioma victims are entitled to “just compensation.”  And maybe there are law firms out there genuinely committed to “fighting for fairness” for these victims.

But there are plenty which aren’t … like the firm of former New York Speaker of the House Sheldon Silver, who resigned his office in disgrace last month after federal prosecutors charged him with five counts of extortion, fraud and conspiracy in conjunction with an asbestos kickback scheme.

Specifically, Silver is accused of using his influence to steer tax dollars to an asbestos doctor – who in turn provided his law firm with the names of patients.  That translated into big business – notably $273.5 million in mesothelioma-related judgments over the last four years.

Closer to home – in North Carolina – U.S. Bankruptcy Judge George Hodges recently unmasked another dubious mesothelioma-related scam in a case involving a New York company, Garlock Sealing Technologies.

Hodges specifically cited “significant” manipulation and withholding of evidence by plaintiffs and attorneys suing Garlock – which “had the effect of unfairly inflating the recoveries.”

How unfairly?  And how inflated?

Hodges estimated Garlock’s mesothelioma-related liability at around $125 million – well south of the $1.3 billion the plaintiffs and their lawyers were seeking.

Anyway, we raise this issue because liberal tort lawyers in the S.C. General Assembly – including the always self-serving S.C. Sen. Gerald Malloy – are pushing legislation which would make September 26 of each year “Mesothelioma Awareness Day.”

And of course the ceremonial bill – which passed the S.C. Senate unanimously last week – reads like a friggin’ public service announcement for plaintiffs’ attorneys.

Now, we don’t get especially exercised over ceremonial bills (even though September 26 is our founding editor’s birthday).  Sure they waste a modicum of taxpayer time and resources, but what harm do they really do beyond that?

“It’s a government sanctioning of their scam,” one tort reform advocate told FITS. “And a fundraising bonanza for the trial lawyers in the General Assembly.”

Interesting …

For those of you keeping score at home, the resolution is currently sitting in a S.C. House subcommittee … where it can stay as far as we’re concerned.  In fact we’ll go one better: Let’s do away with government-subsidized press releases masquerading as “ceremonial bills.”  For everyone.