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

An Example of an Indirect Exposure “Take Home” Lung Cancer Case

Posted in Asbestos, Lung Cancer Claims, Uncategorized

Lung cancer claiming in asbestos litigation is not limited to persons who worked directly with asbestos. To the contrary, some family members claim that their lung cancer arises from another family member working around asbestos. An example from 2014 in Cook County is here; it is a case filed by the Vogelzang firm.

Glowing Zebrafish – Possible Tools for Regulation in China, and Pets

Posted in Cancer, Science

Technology keeps evolving, and so now China may see use of zebrafish as tools for regulatory action. Specifically, after some genetic splicing, zebra fish are in use as living, glowing biomarkers to indicate quickly the presence of particular toxins. Some will develop tumors in the presence of certain substances. Zebrafish are often used for experiments because they are relatively simple and transparent, which helps with observing results of experiments.

Apparent variants are sold as GloFish for pets.

See this page at Wikipedia for the backstory on the technology.

SCOTUS and Bankruptcy Court Jurisdiction Regarding Adjudication of Claims Related to Mass Tort Bankruptcies

Posted in Asbestos Bankruptcy, Bankruptcy, Litigation Industry, Mass Tort Issues

The Stern related opinions continue from SCOTUS. It will be interesting to see the impact for mass tort bankruptcies. A May 26, 2015 article from LAW360 explains:

Law360, New York (May 26, 2015, 10:33 AM ET) — The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that bankruptcy courts have the authority to make final decisions on certain legal claims that help liquidate a debtor or adjudicate a bankruptcy proceeding, a decision that affirms the jurisdictional authority of bankruptcy courts.

Justices ruled 6-3 in favor of overturning the Seventh Circuit which ruled bankruptcy courts lack jurisdiction not expressly granted to it by an Article III court. The decision will likely clear up confusion in the restructuring community over which matters can be decided in Chapter 11 and which need an Article III court.

Writing for the majority, Justice Elana Kagan said that bankruptcy judge’s ability to decide these claims does not usurp the power of other courts because they are still subject to the control of Article III judges. The case is Wellness International Network Ltd. v. Sharif.

“Congress could choose to rest the full share of the Judi­ciary’s labor on the shoulders of Article III judges. But doing so would require a substantial increase in the num­ber of district judgeships,” Justice Kagan wrote. “Instead, Congress has supple­mented the capacity of district courts through the able  assistance of bankruptcy judges. So long as those judges are subject to control by the Article III courts, their workposes no threat to the separation of powers.”


Transparency, GM and the Intersections of Criminal Law and Product Liability

Posted in Litigation Industry, Mass Tort Issues, Policy Issues, Reputation Risk, Science, Transparency

Product liability and criminal penalties may soon come together for General Motors due to the ignition switch issues, according to a May 25, 2015  Wall Street Journal article. Risks continue to increase for companies that choose not to share information with regulators and others. Transparency may become a tool for defense.

The Newest Rand Report Related to Asbestos: “Bankruptcy’s Effect on Product Identification in Asbestos Personal Injury Cases”

Posted in Asbestos, Asbestos Bankruptcy, Litigation Industry, Mass Tort Issues, Policy Issues

Rand’s latest is out. See below:

Bankruptcy’s Effect on Product Identification in Asbestos Personal Injury Cases

This report investigates whether bankruptcy reduces the likelihood that exposures to the asbestos-containing products of bankrupt parties will be identified in interrogatories and depositions.

“Mesothelioma in the United States: A Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER)-Medicare investigation of treatment patterns and survival”

Posted in Asbestos, Mesothelioma, Science

The abstract below is online here.

Journal of Clinical Oncology, 2015 ASCO Annual Meeting (May 29 – June 2, 2015).
Vol 33, No 15_suppl (May 20 Supplement), 2015: e18544
© 2015 American Society of Clinical Oncology

Mesothelioma in the United States: A Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER)-Medicare investigation of treatment patterns and survival.

Jennifer Lynn Beebe-Dimmer, Cecilia Yee, Tapashi Dalvi, Jon Fryzek, David Garabrant, Ann G. Schwartz and Shirish M. Gadgeel

Karmanos Cancer Inst Onc Wayne State School of Medcn, Detroit, MI; Karmanos Cancer Institute Division of Population Studies and Disparities Research, Detroit, MI; MedImmune, LLC, Gaithersburg, MD; EpidStat Inc, Ann Arbor, MI; EpidStat Inc., Ann Arbor, MI; Karmanos Cancer Institute, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI; Karmanos Cancer Inst/Wayne State Univ, Detroit, MI

Abstract Disclosures



Background: Mesothelioma is a rare malignancy typically associated with exposure to asbestos and poor survival. The purpose of this investigation was to describe mesothelioma patient characteristics, treatment patterns and survival, both overall and according to treatment course utilizing the National Cancer Institute’s SEER-Medicare database.Methods: Patients in this study were diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma of the pleura, peritoneum or other site between 01/01/2005 and 12/31/2009 with follow-up for survival through 12/31/2010. We determined the distribution of patient and tumor characteristics at time of diagnosis, and subsequent treatment patterns (surgery, radiation and chemotherapy). Among patients treated with chemotherapy, we determined chemotherapy regimen and estimated survival by line of therapy. Results: Of the 1,625 patients considered eligible for this investigation, the median age at time of diagnosis was 78 years (age range; 66 to 103 years) and 78% were male. 30% of these patients had surgery and 45% were given chemotherapy. The median overall survival was 8 months (mos) (range 1-69 mos). The median survival of patients treated with surgery and chemotherapy (n = 249) was 14 mos and 5 mos among patients who received surgery but no chemotherapy (n = 237). Among non-surgical patients, the median survival among patients who received chemotherapy (n = 478) was 10 mos and patients who did not was 4 mos (n = 623). Among chemotherapy patients, the most commonly (68%) prescribed regimen for first line therapy was Cisplatin or Carboplatin (Ca/Ci) combined with Pemetrexed (Pe). Among those prescribed a second line therapy, retreatment with Ca/Ci + Pe was the most common treatment (33%).Conclusions: Mesothelioma patients receiving chemotherapy survive longer than patients who did not. The observational nature of this study makes it difficult to attribute differences in survival to regimen alone and may be explained by other patient-related factors.

Useless Insurance – Why Do Risk Managers Buy These Policies?

Posted in Insurance, Uncategorized

An April 20, 2015 post at D&O Diary describes policy terms that essentially defeat the purpose of buying D&O coverage. One has to wonder why risk managers buy policies that say:

 “No Claims expenses shall be incurred or settlements made, contractual obligations assumed or liability admitted with respect to any claim without the insurer’s written consent, which shall not be unreasonably withheld. The insurer shall not be liable for any claims expenses, settlement, assumed obligation or admission to which it has not consented.”

 “No action shall be taken against the insurer unless, as a condition precedent thereto, there shall have been full compliance with all of the terms of the policy, and the amounts of the insureds’ obligation to pay shall finally have been determined either by judgment against the insureds after actual trial, or by written agreement of the insureds, the claimant and the insurer.”

Endocrine Disruption: “Plastics, tiny penises, and human evolution” ?

Posted in Litigation Industry, Mass Tort Issues, Policy Issues, Science

In the Graduate, Dustin Hoffman received one word of advice about the future: plastics. It may have been good advice for a recent graduate seeking work. Others, however, continue to raise questions about the effects of plastics for humans. See  Plastics, tiny penises, and human evolution. Over time, science will provide more answers to the questions.

Timing Matters – It’s Not Just Dose (or non-Dose), At Least In Utero

Posted in Dose, Epigenetics, Science

At least for a fetus in utero, timing matters when thinking about the impact of the absence or presence of substances.  Moreover, the presence or absence of the dose may have long-term effects through epigenetic effects such as methylation . A new example arises from further research on children in utero during the Dutch Hunger Winter, as reported in a May 14, 2015 article in ScienceDaily. The article explains the following basis for the findings:

“Researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and Leiden University in the Netherlands found that children whose mothers were malnourished at famine levels during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy had changes in DNA methylation known to suppress genes involved in growth, development, and metabolism documented at age 59. This is the first study to look at prenatal nutrition and genome-wide DNA patterns in adults exposed to severe under-nutrition at different periods of gestation. Findings are published in the International Journal of Epidemiology.

The study evaluated how famine exposure — defined as 900 calories daily or less — during the Dutch Hunger Winter of 1944-1945 affected genome-wide DNA methylation levels. The researchers also studied the impact of short-term exposure, pre-conception and post-conception. The study used blood samples of 422 individuals exposed to the famine at any time during gestation and 463 controls without prenatal famine exposure.


The findings show associations between famine exposure during weeks 1-10 of gestation and DNA changes, but not later in pregnancy. DNA methylation changes were also seen among individuals conceived at the height of the famine between March and May 1945 who were not exposed to all 10 weeks of early gestation. “The first ten weeks of gestation is a uniquely sensitive period when the blood methylome — or whole-genome DNA methylation — is especially sensitive to the prenatal environment,” said L.H. Lumey, MD, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School of Public Health, and last author. “This is the period when a woman may not even be aware that she is pregnant.”

The article is:   E. W. Tobi, R. C. Slieker, A. D. Stein, H. E. D. Suchiman, P. E. Slagboom, E. W. van Zwet, B. T. Heijmans, L. Lumey. Early gestation as the critical time-window for changes in the prenatal environment to affect the adult human blood methylome. International Journal of Epidemiology, 2015; DOI: 10.1093/ije/dyv043

Cite This Page: