The Intersection Among Torts, Science, Corporate Law, Insurance & Bankruptcy

World Trade Center: New Collection of Articles on Cancer Rates and Other Aspects of Health

Posted in Uncategorized

At the 15 year anniversary of 9/11,  the American Journal of Industrial Medicine has published a special issue with a  new set of articles looking at cancer rates and other health effects in some of the responders. Most are open access, here.  Note that some of the authors are on various sides of “controversies” about bias and/or disclosures (e.g. Markowitz, Boffeta). Some of these articles inevitably will find their way into litigation.

The issue is:

“Special Issue: Health Effects of 9/11: Fifteen Year Reports

September 2016

Volume 59, Issue 9
Pages 695–822
Issue edited by: Steven Markowitz MD, DrPH”

“Where Are They Now, Part Eight: An Update On Developments In Asbestos-Related Bankruptcy Cases”

Posted in Asbestos, Asbestos Bankruptcy, Litigation Industry

It’s hard to believe, but now out is:  Where Are They Now, Part Eight: An Update On Developments In Asbestos-Related Bankruptcy Cases.  It’s the “got to” definitive list for the status of and outcomes of asbestos bankruptcy cases. The asbestos trust train just keeps rolling. As before, it was published first by Bryan Redding and other good people at Mealey’s, and is now online.  The authors list this time is: Mark D. Plevin,Tacie H. Yoon, and Leslie A. Davis, of Crowell & Moring LLPWashington, D.C., and Brendan V. Mullan,Belinda Y. Liu, and Galen P. Sallomi, Crowell & Moring LLP, San Francisco, CA.

The original Where are They Now was a big hit in 2001. The various editions are online here.

The Crowell team also continues to provide online access to the three charts appended to the article, which are updated in real time at Crowell’s  web site. See

As always, thanks to the Crowell team for sharing a valuable tool.



Mesothelioma Foundation Symposium in Chicago On October 7th

Posted in Asbestos, Science, Uncategorized

The Mesothelioma Foundation’s next Symposium stop is Chicago on October 7. As they explain at the web site at

“So far this year, we’ve hosted mesothelioma conferences in Houston and San Francisco, and now we’re preparing for our last stop in Chicago on October 7. We’ve compiled an agenda featuring top experts in the field to discuss topics including clinical trials, surgery, radiation therapy, genetics, and pain management. The conference will also include professionally moderate support sessions. Visit to register now!”

FTSE 100 Reserves £31.3bn for Litigation and Compliance

Posted in Litigation Industry, Mass Tort Issues

The litigation industry can thank uber banks and others for a continuing flow of work.  A new survey from Thompson Reuters is said to conclude the FTSE 100 has now:

set aside £31.3bn in the last 12 months to pay litigation legal bills, compensation and regulatory fines ….Banks paid out the most, accounting for 56 per cent of the total figure – around £17.4bn – representing a 27 per cent increase on the previous year. Major legal and regulatory disputes including Libor and Forex manipulation and PPI mis-selling continued to have a significant impact on UK banks’ legal costs.

The preceding summary is from a September 26, 2016 article at the Lawyer.

Mesothelioma Day – Invest Against the Disease Through The Meso Foundation (formerly MARF)

Posted in Asbestos, Cancer, Science

Today is Mesothelioma Day. It’s a day to regret so many unintended deaths, and to invest in research to stop or slow the disease. It’s therefore an especially good day to contribute to the research fund at The Meso Foundation (formerly MARF). “It is the only non-profit organization dedicated to ending mesothelioma and the suffering caused by it, by funding research, providing education and support for patients and their families, and by advocating for federal funding of mesothelioma research.” See The Meso Foundation online here, at

Bike Brakes, Cancer and Mutated Genes: The Analogies Become More Complex With More Focus on Interactions Between Genes

Posted in Asbestos, Cancer, Litigation Industry, Mass Tort Issues, Science










Deeply understanding interactions between genes is one of the next frontiers for molecular researchers. As a result of 15 years of work, researchers have now accomplished another big step for genetic understanding, and the result is being published this month. This new study establishes the general fact of links between high importance genes, and serves as proof of principle for the next generation of research to understand inter-relationships between genes. The project was accomplished because of brains, bots, and computers. The next 20 years of new genetic and epigenetic knowledge will be both stunning and transformative for medicine and litigation.

For the shorter term, the “bike brake” analogy for defective genes is now undergoing modification as researchers look for back-ups to defective genes, and relationships. The theories and arguments matter for toxic tort claims as more and more cases include evidence about mutations and individual variability, including bike brake analogies. Thus, the universe of relevant information continues to expand, but most parties to litigation are unaware of the changes.  Science Daily included the following explanation in its September 23, 2016 article about the new paper by Costanzo et al.

“Andrews, Boone and Myers led the pioneering work in yeast cells by deleting two genes at a time in pair combinations. They were trying to look for gene pairs that are essential for survival. This called for custom-built robots and a state-of-the-art automated pipeline to analyse almost all of the mind-blowing 18 million different combinations.

The yeast map identified genes that work together in a cell. It shows how, if a gene function is lost, there’s another gene in the genome to fill its role. Consider a bicycle analogy: a wheel is akin to an essential gene — without it, you couldn’t ride the bike. But front brakes? Well, as long as the back brakes are working, you might be able to get by. But if you were to lose both sets of brakes, you are heading for trouble.

Geneticists say that front and back brakes are “synthetic lethal,” meaning that losing both — but not one — spells doom. Synthetic lethal gene pairs are relatively rare, but because they tend to control the same process in the cell, they reveal important information about genes we don’t know much about. For example, scientists can predict what an unexplored gene does in the cell simply based on its genetic interaction patterns.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that human genes also have one or more functional backups. So researchers believe that instead of searching for single genes underlying diseases, we should be looking for gene pairs. That is a huge challenge because it means examining about 200 million possible gene pairs in the human genome for association with a disease.

Fortunately, with the know-how from the yeast map, researchers can now begin to map genetic interactions in human cells and even expand it to different cell types. Together with whole-genome sequences and health parameters measured by new personal devices, it should finally become possible to find combinations of genes that underlie human physiology and disease.

“Without our many years of genetic network analysis with yeast, you wouldn’t have known the extent to which genetic interactions drive cellular life or how to begin mapping a global genetic network in human cells,” said Boone, who is also a professor in U of T’s molecular genetics department and a co-director of the Genetic Networks program at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) and holds Canada Research Chair in Proteomics, Bioinformatics and Functional Genomics. We have tested the method to completion in a model system to provide the proof of principle for how to approach this problem in human cells. There’s no doubt it will work and generate a wealth of new information.”

The concept of synthetic lethality is already changing cancer treatment because of its potential to identify drug targets that exist only in tumour cells. Cancer cells differ from normal cells in that they have scrambled genomes littered with mutations. They’re like a bicycle without a set of brakes. If scientists could find the highly vulnerable back-up genes in cancer, they could target specific drugs at them to destroy only the cells that are sick, leaving the healthy ones untouched.”

The new paper is online at Science magazine (paywall).


When Are Ships Really Asbestos Free?

Posted in Asbestos, Science

Definitions matter when it comes to defining “asbestos,” and the facts matter when parties are arguing about causes (or not) of mesothelioma  Indeed, definitional issues are often confronted by defendants in “talc” cases.  In a similar vein, the definition of “asbestos free ships” also varies, and so asbestos-containing products actually may still be present in ships declared “asbestos free,” according to an August 22, 2016 article at Ban Asbestos Secretariat. The article is by “Centre Testing International Marine services (abbreviated to CTI Marine in this article) is an international accredited ship survey organization. Currently, CTI Marine is the only company in the world with an ISO17020 accreditation specifically for asbestos surveying of ships.”

One take away? Proving the presence or absence of asbestos exposures remains complex, and definitions need to be understood.

Six Person Jury Statute Stricken by Illinois Supreme Court

Posted in Asbestos, Litigation Industry, Mass Tort Issues

Tort partisans are digesting the impact of yesterday’s Illinois Supreme Court ruling that struck down a statute that cut civil juries from 12 to 6. The same statute also increased increased juror pay to $50 per day, after the 1st two days. The statute was widely disliked by insurers, which see 40-50% of all mesothelioma cases filed in Illinois. Two years ago, the statute passed just before Republican Bruce Rauner beat Democrat Patrick J. Quinn for the governor’s office.

According to a September 22, 2016 article in the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin (paywall):

“Chief Justice Rita B. Garman and the high court majority wrote the phrase “as heretofore enjoyed” has long been construed to mean the right as it existed and as enjoyed when the constitution was adopted….

On that front, Garman wrote there was “ample evidence that the drafters at the 1970 Constitutional Convention believed they were specifically preserving the right to a 12-person jury” when they approved the constitution.

She cited debates in which the drafters considered, but ultimately rejected, an idea to allow lawmakers to approve juries of between six and 12 people while allowing verdicts with only three-quarters approval rather than unanimous consent.

“Because the size of the jury — 12 people — was an essential element of the right of trial by jury enjoyed at the time the 1970 Constitution was drafted, we conclude jury size is an element of the right that has been preserved and protected in the constitution,” she wrote in the decision.

Robert Marc Chemers, a senior equity partner at Pretzel & Stouffer Chtd. who opposed the law and represented the defendants in the case, said his team is “incredibly pleased with the result, as the decision protects one of the most fundamental rights guaranteed to every Illinois citizen.

The case is James Kakos, etc., et al., appellants, v. Jerry Bauer, etc., et al, No. 120377.”

Compilation of the Science Related to Deflategate, Brady, the Patriots and the NFL

Posted in Science

Expert scientific reports are a staple of mass tort claiming, but are seldom the subject of detailed national media attention. Thus, it’s kind of fun to see expert issues highlighted in detail through a news media story about the Deflategate incident involving the Patriots, Tom Brady and the NFL. A broad view of the expert issues is provided by a September 21, 2016 NYT article. The article arises now because the NFL’s experts, from Exponent, are now speaking out about their work.