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

Plaintiff Web Site Jumps on Italian Paper On Finding Previously Unknown Asbestos Exposures

Posted in Asbestos, Litigation Industry

Knowledge moves fast these days. A January 20, 2016 medical article from Italy – in Italian – reports on results obtained from researchers going back to look for previously not seen sources of asbestos exposure in the lives of persons who developed mesothelioma. A February 4, 2016 article on Surviving Mesothelioma provides a summary. The article abstract is as follows:

“Med Lav. 2016 Jan 20;107(1):22-8.
Malignant mesotheliomas with unknown exposure to asbestos: a re-examination.
[Article in Italian]
Mensi C1, Poltronieri A, Romano A, Dallari B, Riboldi L, Bertazzi PA, Consonni D.
Author information
1Dip Medicina Preventiva, Fondaz IRCCS Ca’ Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Milano. carolina.mensi@unimi.it.
Abstract
INTRODUCTION:
Malignant Mesothelioma (MM) is a rare neoplasm associated with asbestos exposure. In 24,5% of MM cases reported to the Lombardy Mesothelioma Registry (LMR), asbestos exposure has been defined as “unknown”.
OBJECTIVE:
To evaluate the cases with “unknown exposure to asbestos” diagnosed in 2000-2004 in agreement with new knowledge about source of asbestos exposure.
METHODS:
Information regarding exposure has been reviewed in order to select the cases susceptible of further investigations, including: interview of relatives and/or colleagues; further evaluations by local PSAL (Prevention and Security in workplace) services; contact of industrial hygienists; analysis of production processes. The same procedure has been followed for extra-occupational exposure. These cases have been subjected to the LMR evaluation group.
RESULTS:
Fourthy four out of 364 (12,1%) MM have been reclassified. In 47,7% of the cases, a “possible occupational exposure” has been recognized, 15,9% have been attributed a “certain occupational exposure”, while 36,4% an extra-occupational (domestic, environmental and leisure-time) exposure. No significant differences between age, sex, cancer site, diagnostic certainty, residence, year of diagnosis, interviewed subjects were detected. The occupational sector with the highest amount of reclassifications was the clothing production.
CONCLUSIONS:
The detailed reconstruction of clinical and occupational history and of lifestyle habits of patients affected by MM, close cooperation with Local Services of Occupational Medicine and literature review make it possible for previously overlooked asbestos exposure to be acknowledged.
PMID: 26822243 [PubMed – in process]”

 

World Cancer Day – What Are Hopes and Expectations?

Posted in Cancer, Cancer Research

WCD_LOGO_RGB

“Cancer” is a beast that kills 560,000 Americans per year, and millions more around the globe. “Cancer” akes many forms, most of which are awful and lethal, but with some less lethal if detected early. But progress is being made with immuno-therapy and precision drugs aimed at specific mutations in certain cancers.  And, some other therapies buy more time, perhaps enough time to find the next advance. Today, about 4% of Americans (over 14 million) are people who have survived cancer.

With today being World Cancer Day, it’s perhaps useful to look at public attitudes, which may over time translate to public demands on governments. A new Harris Poll indicates optimism, albeit perhaps also some misinformation as the number of diseases/conditions that are “cancer.”

“NEW YORK, Feb. 3, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Nearly six in 10 Americans (57%) and Canadians (59%) expect to see a cure for cancer in their lifetime. This optimism is especially strong among Millennials, with nearly three-fourths (73%) of U.S. Millennials and seven in 10 (69%) of their Canadian counterparts indicating the same.

What’s more, two-thirds of both Americans (68%) and Canadians (66%) don’t see a cancer diagnosis as a death sentence. In a sharp contrast to their especially strong optimism in reference to expecting a cure within their lifetimes, it’s notable that American Millennials are in fact more likely to believe that a cancer diagnosis is a death sentence (39% 18-34 vs. 29% 35+). Americans whose lives have been touched by cancer (35%) are also more likely to see a cancer diagnosis as a death sentence, when compared to those whose lives have not been touched by cancer (29%).

“So many of us have had personal experiences with cancer or know someone who has,” says Harris Poll Vice President and Public Relations Consultant Deana Percassi. “In honor of World Cancer Day, we wanted to understand how Americans and Canadians feel about this disease.”

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,046 U.S. adults and 1,120 Canadian adults surveyed online between January 20 and 22, 2016. Full results of this study, including data tables, can be found here.

Efforts and advances
Majorities in both countries feel that efforts are being made – and that progress has been seen over the past 10 years – across multiple areas. But where are efforts and advances seen as most robust? Detection seems to be the watchword among both Americans and Canadians, while prevention efforts appear to be lagging by comparison. Reducing mortality rates and improving quality of life for patients living with cancer fall between these extremes.

Improving cancer detection: Nearly four in 10 Americans (38%) and a third of Canadians (34%) feel a great deal of effort is currently going toward improving cancer detection, with an overwhelming 87% of Americans and 85% of Canadians saying at least some effort is going toward this goal.

There’s a clear perception that these efforts are paying off, as 35% of Americans and three in 10 (30%) Canadians believe a lot of progress has been made toward improving cancer detection in the past 10 years; similarly robust majorities believe at least some progress has been realized (87% U.S., 83% Can).

Reducing the mortality rate of cancer: Over a third of Americans (35%) and nearly three in 10 Canadians (28%) feel there’s a great deal of effort going toward reducing cancer’s mortality rate, with a cumulative 84% and 82%, respectively, believing there’s at least some effort being put toward this.

Here again perceived efforts seem to be driving the perception of progress. 29% of Americans and 23% of Canadians feel a lot of progress has been made toward reducing mortality rates, with a cumulative eight in 10 (82% U.S., 79% Can) feeling there’s been at least some progress.

Improving the quality of life for those living with cancer: Results here are similar to those for reducing mortality rates, with roughly three in 10 Americans (31%) and just over a quarter of Canadians (27%) feeling there’s a great deal of effort going toward quality of life issues; a combined 82% in both countries believe there’s at least some effort being put toward the issue.

Similarly, just under three in 10 Americans (29%) and a quarter of Canadians (25%) feel there’s been a great deal of progress in quality of life concerns over the past 10 years, with eight in 10 (82% U.S., 79% Can) seeing signs of at least some progress.

Reducing the risk of cancer: Though majorities do feel attention is being paid to this area, it does lag somewhat behind detection, reduced mortality, and improved quality of life in both perceived efforts toward it and progress coming out of it. Over a quarter of both (28%) and Canadians (27%) perceive a great deal of effort going toward prevention, with over three-fourths (77% U.S., 78% Can) feeling at least some effort is going into for this.

There’s a bit of a disconnect on this issue. The perception that there’s been a lot of progress in this area in the past 10 years (20% U.S., 19% Can) is lower than in any other area, as well as being lower than the perceived efforts going into it. What’s more, though strong majorities do believe at least some progress is going into this area (74% U.S., 72% Can), this is the only area where the sentiment that there’s been little or no progress (26% U.S., 28% Can) outpaces the sense that there’s been a great deal.

It’s worth noting that in all four of these areas, perceived efforts and progress are especially strong among Americans who say their lives have been affected by cancer.

To see other recent Harris Polls, please visit us at TheHarrisPoll.com.
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Methodology
This Harris Poll was conducted online between January 20 and 22, 2016 within the United States (in English) among 2,046 adults (aged 18 and over) and within Canada (in English and French) among 1,120 adults (also aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

Product and brand names are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

The Harris Poll® #10, February 3, 2016
By Larry Shannon-Missal, Managing Editor, The Harris Poll

About The Harris Poll®
Begun in 1963, The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys measuring public opinion in the U.S. and is highly regarded throughout the world. The nationally representative polls, conducted primarily online, measure the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public. New and trended polls on a wide variety of subjects including politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles are published weekly. For more information, or to see other recent polls, please visit our new website, TheHarrisPoll.com.

Press Contact:
Corporate Communications
The Harris Poll
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SOURCE The Harris Poll

Changes in the Delaware Chancery Bench

Posted in Litigation Industry

Due to its role in litigation, it’s  interesting to watch the changes in the Delaware judiciary. The latest likely appointees, and some history, are discussed in a February 2, 2016 WSJ law blog post. In view of the interesting history and the paywall, I’ve pasted the full entry below. Note: some Chancellors have backgrounds you might not expect.

 

 

Plaintiffs’ Lawyer, Former Judge on Short List for Delaware Chancery Court
Feb 2nd 2016, 15:58, by Liz Hoffman

 

“A well-known plaintiffs’ lawyer and a former state judge are vying for a seat on the Delaware Chancery Court, the chief arbiter of disputes involving most of America’s biggest companies.

A state panel tasked with filling court vacancies has submitted two names to the governor’s office, according to people familiar with the matter: Joel Friedlander and Joseph Slights III. Gov. Jack Markell is expected to choose one of them to replace Vice Chancellor John Noble, who retires later this month. The governor’s office did not respond to a request for comment.

The five-member Chancery Court hears cases involving mergers, proxy fights, and corporate and commercial disputes. It is widely considered the most influential business court in the country, setting the rules for executives, directors and the lawyers and bankers who advise them.

Mr. Friedlander, a litigator, is best-known for representing shareholders in big class actions. In 2014, he won more than $75 million in a buzzed-about case against RBC Capital Markets LLC over the bank’s M&A advice. Last year, he secured a $275 million judgment in a derivative suit stemming from the sale of a stake in Activision BlizzardIncATVI -1.77%.

If nominated, Mr. Friedlander would join his former law partner, Andre Bouchard, who was named chief judge of the chancery court in 2014.

Mr. Slights served 12 years on the Delaware Superior Court before retiring in 2012 and joining local firm Morris James LLP. While on the court, he headed a specialized business section.

Mr. Markell, a Democrat, has had a large say in shaping the Delaware bench. With Mr. Noble’s departure, Mr. Markell will have appointed all five sitting chancery court judges as well as four of the five sitting justices on the Delaware Supreme Court, including Chief Justice Leo Strine. The state’s courts are required to be balanced between the two parties.”

Trial Verdict for 27 Asbestos Plaintiffs – In Japan

Posted in Asbestos, Litigation Industry

Most cancer trials are tough for most asbestos defendants to win, in most venues. The point is highlighted by a news story out of Japan, from a January 29, 2016 article on jiji.com. According to an online currency conversion calculator, the total damages awarded slightly exceed $1 million. The article states the following:

Kyoto, Jan. 29 (Jiji Press)–A Japanese court ordered nine companies on Friday to pay total damages of 112 million yen for selling construction materials without warning that they contain asbestos.
The order came in response to a lawsuit from former construction workers that demanded the government and 32 construction materials makers to pay a total of about one billion yen in damages for lung cancer or mesothelioma that they developed by inhaling asbestos at construction sites. The plaintiffs, totaling 27, include the families of dead workers.
Selling asbestos-containing construction materials without any warning is an offense, Kazumi Higa, presiding judge at Kyoto District Court, said.
It is the first time that construction materials makers have been found liable for health problems related to asbestos.
The court also ordered the government to pay 104 million yen in damages for its failure to take steps to prevent the diseases, including obliging workers to use dust masks.

(2016/01/29-18:17)

 

Further information is available.

“Activist Judges” Remain At Work in Delaware

Posted in Litigation Industry

Delaware’s “activist judges” remain hard at work on paring back “disclosure suits” in securities cases, with yet another ruling late last week. It’s interesting to watch courts in action on categories of suits, and the related complaints (or not) by the US Chamber of Commerce. A cynic might thing there’s a bias at the Chamber. I’ll bet heavily the Chamber will not be attacking Delaware’s chancellors as too activist.

Low Dose CT Scan Medical Monitoring Trial Arrives for Big Tobacco

Posted in Cancer, Litigation Industry, Mass Tort Issues, Medical Monitoring, Tobacco

Trial has finally arrived for the long-pending and much litigated Donovan class action against big tobacco in federal court in Massachusetts.  For big tobacco, delay apparently is perceived as a friend, but the delay also brought new findings supporting low dose CT scans (2010 post here, and 2015 post here), and a sweeping 2009 ruling against it by the Massachusetts Supreme Court (prior post here). Science today is moving at warp speed, when compared to litigation. Some litigants factor in the realities of science and some do not. One has to assume (I think) that big tobacco follows the science day by day and was not surprised by the changes.

Do Biomarkers and Molecular Evidence Matter? New Evidence of Ties Between Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals and Male Infertility

Posted in Uncategorized

Gathering molecular information matters. Consider the information set out in a January 7, 2016  article at europa.eu that summarizes a new medical journal on “endocrine disrupting chemicals” and  “subfertility, the inability to conceive for a prolonged period.” The summary article explains:

“The researchers measured biomarkers of EDC exposure and key fertility parameters in 163 men recruited through four fertility clinics in Belgium. Semen samples were analysed following the guidelines of the World Health Organization, using a total motility count (TMC) of 20 million as a threshold value for normality.

The researchers recruited ‘cases’ – male partners of couples who were experiencing involuntary
infertility– and ‘controls’ – male partners of couples with a documented or suspected female
cause of infertility, or sperm donors.

Patients were assigned to the case group when two semen samples (collected at least one week
apart) had a TMC less than 20 million. If both samples had a TMC of 20 million or above, the
patient was assigned to the control group. Of the 163 patients, 80 met the criteria to be controls
and 40 to be cases. Blood and urine samples were also taken to analyse levels of EDCs and sex
hormones.

The study revealed associations between exposure and subfertility for a number of compounds,
including:
***

Brominated flame retardants (BDE209): Detectable levels of BDE209 in serum were
associated with a 7.2 increased risk of subfertility and a 33% reduction in sperm motility.”

The full medical journal article is online (paywall). The abstract explains:

“Abstract
Background

Dioxins, PCBs, chlorinated pesticides, brominated flame retardants, bisphenol A, triclosan, perfluorinated compounds and phthalates are known as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs).

Objectives

The aim of our study was to investigate whether higher exposure to EDCs is associated with increased subfertility in men.

Methods

We measured biomarkers of exposure in 163 men, recruited through four fertility clinics. According to WHO guidelines, we used a total motility count (TMC) of 20 million as cut-off value. We assigned patients to the case group when two semen samples – collected at least one week apart – had a TMC < 20 and to the control group when both samples had a TMC ≥ 20. To estimate the risk of subfertility and alteration in sex hormone concentrations we used multivariable-adjusted analysis, using logistic and linear regressions, respectively.

Results

For an IQR increase in serum oxychlordane, the odds ratio for subfertility was 1.98 (95% CI: 1.07; 3.69). Furthermore, men with serum levels of BDE209 above the quantification limit had an odds of 7.22 (1.03; 50.6) for subfertility compared with those having values below the LOQ. Urinary levels of phthalates and triclosan were negatively associated with inhibin B and positively with LH. Urinary bisphenol A correlated negatively with testosterone levels.

Conclusions

Our study in men showed that internal body concentrations of endocrine disrupting chemicals are associated with an increased risk of subfertility together with alterations in hormone levels. The results emphasize the importance to reduce chemicals in the environment in order to safeguard male fertility.”