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

Tuesday 9/23 – MicroRNA Tools for Trial Use for Evaluating Asbestos-Related Cancers and Other Non-Asbestos Cancers

Posted in Asbestos, Science, Seminars

How to use microRNA in trials?  My law school education did not cover microRNA, nor did it even cover much about DNA. But today, there’s an ongoing revolution in molecular biology and so it’s back to school time for students of all ages and professions. There’s plenty of new science to learn for lawyers, risk managers and others involved with mass tort claims.

To start, a free webinar on actual and potential uses of microRNA for toxic tort trials involving asbestos and other substances. The key speakers are scientists and doctors. One is Bob Wassman, CMO of Rosetta Genomics, a world leader in microRNA for identifying tumors, not to mention other evolving uses. Bob’s done it all when it comes to molecular science and medicine. Another key speaker is Dr. Allan Feingold, a pulmonologist who thrives on the latest in things molecular, and utilized Rosetta’s technology for a recent trial in which he was an expert witness. And there are two layers named Hartley, who both enjoy science but are not related and work on the opposite sides for some litigation. The webinar is free. See below for the agenda for tomorrow, and sign up information.

September 23, 2014
2:00-3:30pm ET


Allan Feingold, MD, FRCP(C), FCCP, Medical Director, Occupational & Environmental Medicine, South Miami Hospital, Miami, FL
Christian H. Hartley, Esq., Maune Raichle Hartley French & Mudd, LLC, Los Angeles, CA
Kirk T. Hartley, Esq., LSP Group LLC, Chicago, IL
E. Robert Wassman, MD, FAAP, FACMG, Chief Medical Officer, Rosetta Genomics, Princeton, NJ

Topics to be covered:

  • Mesothelioma trial use of microRNA – the experience in a Texas mesothelioma trial
  • Plaintiff and defense lawyer perspectives on admissibility issues
  • Asbestos lung cancer trials – actual and potential uses of microRNA
  • Non-asbestos uses for microRNA – heavy metal exposures change microRNA expression patterns
  • Other examples of “toxins” changing microRNA patterns/expression
  • Doctors looking at microRNA patterns for indications on cancer relapse or possible survival


There is no cost to register for this program.

Register online through the REGISTER NOW button or contact Bethany Corio to register by email.

Each complimentary registration includes 1.5-1.8 CLE Credit Hours

Applications are being made to all CLE states as requested by attendees.

For more information about the program and registration, contact Kelsey Minerd.

“High incidence of lung cancer and malignant mesothelioma linked to erionite fibre exposure in a rural community in Central Mexico”

Posted in Asbestos, Science

A new research paper reports as follows:

Objective To report the high incidence of lung cancer (LC) and malignant mesothelioma (MM) linked to environmental exposure to erionite fibres in a rural village of central Mexico.

Methods This is a retrospective survey of clinical and mortality records from the years 2000–2012, accompanied by an environmental survey for nine Group-1 lung and pleura carcinogenic agents listed by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

Results Out of a total of 45 deaths between 2000 and 2012, 14 deaths correspond to different neoplasms of the lung, and at least four deaths to MM. The ages at diagnosis of MM were between 30 and 54 years. Annual age-standardised mortality rates per thousand due to LC and MM in the village (age >20 years) are 7.09 and 2.48 for males, and 4.75 and 1.05 for females, respectively. Erionite fibres were found in exposed rocks and soils, which can easily become airborne and be carried into streets and recreational areas near schools and homes. Other carcinogenic elements and minerals are found only in trace amounts, except for quartz dust and asbestos (chrysotile) cement sheeting, which are also present in the neighbouring villages.

Conclusions These results indicate that environmental exposure to erionite is the main cause of the high rates of MM mortality in the Village of Tierra Blanca, supporting previous similar reports for people exposed to erionite fibres in villages in Turkey.”

The paper is online at Occup Environ Med,  doi:10.1136/oemed-2013-101957

Kudos for “Crude Awakening: Chevron in Ecuador” – Michael Goldhaber’s Insights into the Chevron Trial, in a New Book

Posted in Litigation Industry, Science

The saga involving Chevron/Ecuador oil drilling and litigation is a fascinating and factually intense story of mass tort litigation at its most extreme. The overall events and recent trial have it all – rampant oil production, oil in the ground in places and amounts that should not exist, arguments over what is “pollution,”  jockeying between lawsuits on two continents, use of arbitration to influence litigation, corporate over-reaching/greed, plaintiff lawyer passion and perhaps greed, a smart and opinionated jurist in the US, Ecuadorian judges as witnesses and jurists, the massive horsepower (and bills) of “big law,” the power of media spin, litigation funding, and huge egos. It also appears there was indeed some level of judicial and government corruption in Ecuador, induced – it appears – by all sides.

How to sort it all out? There is no one answer. That said, Michael Goldhaber – a very smart international lawyer and AmLaw writer –  provides excellent and condensed insight into the story in a new online Amazon Kindle book for only $2.99. The aptly titled book is : “Crude Awakening: Chevron in Ecuador.”  A sample  is online at  American Lawyer.

“Crude Awakening”  is great reading for anyone involved with mass torts. The book also includes some philosophic  comments from Michael, and they too are valuable. Indeed, one reads them and suspects Michael wrote the book in part to have a forum for expressing the views, which in general, are views that make sense to me. But I’m biased, I believe in greater transparency and more unbiased, non-partisan intersections between science and law. For example, my view is that we need far more neutral experts to help judges with complex, time-consuming science.

The bottom line? Read the book – it’s an easy read – the writing is intelligent and crisp, and distills out key elements from a massive story that deserves more attention for larger lessons that can be learned. Reality is far more complicated than the soundbites issued by both sets of partisans.

Progress Towards a Blood Test to Confirm/Prove Depression – And Hopefully It Will Lead to Seeing Responses to Drugs

Posted in Science

What a great thing – real progress towards a blood test that actually can confirm/identify the disease we call major depression. A Chicago Tribune story is here. The full paper is online here, at no cost. Over time, the hope is that metrics can be developed for diagnosis, and to measure responses to medications.

The molecular age continues to arrive. And, happily, this time, some of the researchers are even in Chicago, at Northwestern.

Xfinity Fails Again in River North, Chicago – Will Crains Chicago Business or Alderman Reilly Help to Force a Fix?

Posted in Class Actions, Offtopic


This afternoon, Xfinity’s “business class” Internet service has failed – yet again – in Chicago’s River North. These failures need to end, now. Accordingly, I just sent the following e-mail letter this afternoon to Crain’s Chicago Business, with a copy to Alderman Reilly’s office. I’m not going to hold my breath waiting for action. But it’s nice to dream of reliable service.


To the Editors:

Will Crain’s please lead an effort to report on the repeated and massive failures of Xfinity “business class” Internet service? This afternoon there was yet another complete outage at our building at 445 West Erie, which arrived after what seemed to be LOTS of slowdowns. The failure disrupted work at, among others, a “big data” firm you previously featured in Crain’s (TempoDB), a media services firm, and my law firm. I suspect Xfinity’s failure took out the whole building, but I did not go to every door to confirm. We hear the failure was throughout the River North area.

We are business people paying for service, but Xfinity’s failures are repeated in River North, and screwing up our business operations. Simply put, we need reliable Internet service, but we do not have it. It obviously is going to take pressure from the business community to force change, and perhaps Alderman Reilly and other Chicago politicians also will get on board to force Xfinity to fix itself, or end its quasi-monopoly status. Will Crains will help lead the way to a solution?

Thank you for your time and consideration,


Kirk T. Hartley
LSP Group LLC - Law Science Policy
445 W. Erie Street – Suite 102
Chicago, IL 60654
(O) 312-857-5545
(C) 312-802-4471