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My name is David Stone. I live in Houston, Texas. I am a 30-something single white male. I am an Orthodox Christian and am a member of an English-language parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR).

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Asbestos Trust Fund Bars Suspect Doctors

One of the largest asbestos compensation trust funds has now blacklisted several doctors used by plaintiffs lawfirms. The trust fund has decided to stop accepting medical reports from certain physicians. This article in the New York Times provides more of the background.

As the article points out:

"The named doctors are responsible for tens of thousands of claims submitted to the trust, which has paid out $3.3 billion to resolve 655,096 claims since it was created in 1988. The move by the Manville Personal Injury Settlement Trust is a response to growing concern that some of the claims it receives are not valid and may even be fraudulent. "

The article continues stating:

"Lawyers for Claims Resolution Management Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Manville Trust, also said that the company had received a subpoena from federal prosecutors in Manhattan who are looking into asbestos claims. The subpoena is an indication that the government's investigation is widening.

And the trust's decision could affect current bankruptcy proceedings of companies coping with asbestos claims and, potentially, legislation mired in Congress that would set up a massive compensation fund for victims, lawyers said.

"It is further evidence that the tide is turning on these doctors," said Jane Thorpe, a lawyer in the Atlanta office of Alston & Bird who has defended corporations in mass tort cases of various types, including asbestos, for more than 20 years. "Things like this letter are going to become more commonplace as people are really going to examine the underpinnings of the expert testimony that has been proffered for years in asbestos litigation."

The article also point out the fact that:

"The vast majority of the claims filed with the Manville Trust, which is a bellwether for other similar compensation vehicles, are submitted by people with no current malignancy - that is, people who are not yet demonstrably sick. Such claims are worth thousands of dollars each, according to the trust.

The move by the trust will probably affect fewer than 2,000 current claimants, Ms. Marvin said. This is not the first time that the trust has created a blacklist, she added, although it is the longest such list. The trust, which has paid billions of dollars for claims, is running so low on funds that it now offers just 5 cents for every dollar that a claimant is due under a schedule gauging the severity of disease."

This action is actually a fallout from the earlier Silicosis debacle that occured in Judge Janis Jack's courthouse in Corpus Christi, Texas. As this article mentions:

"The creation of the list by the Manville Trust appears to be another aftershock from an unusual hearing in federal court in Corpus Christi, Tex., in February. That proceeding dealt with claims by people who said they were injured by exposure to another material that can cause respiratory disease, silica, which is used in making glass, paint, ceramics and other materials. The Manville Trust memorandum that includes the list of doctors cites evidence developed in that litigation.

In the Corpus Christi proceeding, several doctors testified that they diagnosed silicosis in patients they had never met or interviewed. Some of the same doctors conducting separate examinations of the same claimants found only silicosis in one examination and only asbestos-related diseases in the other. That is not an impossible sequence of events, but it was considered unlikely that both illnesses in the same patient would not have been noted in one examination. Some doctors had little training in how to interpret X-rays to find signs of silicosis, which affects the lungs, and they reached their conclusions after spending just minutes looking at an X-ray. Some doctors backed away from their conclusions. Dr. Harron interrupted his testimony to ask for a lawyer. "


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