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

New Paper: “Digestive and occupational cancers asbestos exposure: impact study in a cohort of asbestos plant workers”

Posted in Asbestos, Cancer, Causation - Cancer

Mesothelioma web sites continue to pick  up the pace of and quality of information disseminated regarding asbestos related diseases. A new example arises from the Surviving Mesothelioma site publishing this August 29, 2015 post about an August 24, 2015 medical article. The abstract is as follows:

The aim of our study was to estimate the incidence of digestive cancers within a cohort of asbestos-exposed workers.
Our study was based on a cohort of 2024 participants occupationally exposed to asbestos. The incidence of digestive cancers was calculated from 1 January 1978 to 31 December 2009 and compared with levels among the local general population using Standardised Incidence Ratios (SIRs). Asbestos exposure was assessed using the company’s job-exposure matrix.
119 cases of digestive cancer were observed within our cohort, for an expected number of 77 (SIR=1.54 (1.28 to 1.85)). A significantly elevated incidence was observed for peritoneal mesothelioma, particularly in women. Significantly elevated incidences were also observed among men for: all digestive cancers, even when excluding peritoneal mesothelioma (SIR=1.50 (1.23 to 1.82)), oesophageal cancer (SIR=1.67 (1.08 to 2.47)) and liver cancer (SIR=1.85 (1.09 to 2.92)). Concerning colorectal cancer, a significant excess of risk was observed for men with exposure duration above 25 years (SIR=1.75 (1.05 to 2.73)).
Our results are in favour of a link between long-duration asbestos exposure and colorectal cancer in men. They also suggest a relationship between asbestos exposure and cancer of the oesophagus in men. Finally, our results suggest a possible association with small intestine and liver cancers in men.”

M Boulanger, Morlais F, V Bouvier, Galateau-Room F, L Guittet, Marquignon MF, Paris C, C Raffaelli, Launoy G, Clin B., Digestive and occupational cancers
asbestos exposure: impact study in a cohort of asbestos plant workers, Occup Environ. Med. 2015 Aug 24. pii: OEMéd-2015-102871. doi: 10.1136 / OEMéd-2015-102871.


A New Drug Company Example of Be Careful What You Wish For

Posted in Drugs, Litigation Industry, Preemption

The good news for drug companies is that a federal judge in New York agrees there is a 1st Amendment right to provide information to consumers about off label uses of FDA approved drugs. The not so good news is that various defense oriented lawyers think those actions will take away FDA preemption arguments that drug companies depend on in many cases. For example, consider this quote from an August 10, 2015 article at LAW360:

In theory, this ruling frees companies to promote their drugs more broadly for uses not approved by the FDA, so long as what they say is truthful and not misleading,” Jennifer Bragg of Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom LLP said.

“But any arguments that companies might have previously had that their statements were consistent with FDA’s approval will not be available, to the extent that cases pertain to alleged injuries from off-label uses of their products,” she said.

Be careful what you wish for ….

ICD-10 Coding for Cancers; Changes Ahead, New Knowledge Will Follow

Posted in Cancer, Cancer Research, Causation - Cancer, Litigation Industry

After various delays, the new, more detailed ICD-10 coding takes effect in October. The ICD-10 coding is more detailed than is current coding in terms of identifying cancers by type, subtype and location. New knowledge inevitably will follow from better data. This page provides examples of the new oncology coding in general.

Here are examples of ICD-10 coding for mesotheliomas. A comparative look at historic ICD mesothelioma codes is here; the new ones are more specific.

The use of ICD-10 codes helped to improve finding mesotheliomas in Scotland.  See D R Camidge, D L Stockton, M Bain, Factors affecting the mesothelioma detection rate within national and international epidemiological studies: insights from Scottish linked cancer registry-mortality data,  Br J Cancer. 2006 September 4; 95(5): 649–652. Published online 2006 August 29. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6603293


List of Useful Easy to Read Books About the Science of Cancer, Plus Movies

Posted in Cancer, Science

2014  –  p53: The Gene that Cracked the Cancer Code by Sue Armstrong. Goodreads page is here. A useful and learned 2015 review by Prives is here. A 2015 Boston Globe review is here.

2013 –  The Philadelphia Chromosome: A Genetic Mystery, a Lethal Cancer, and the Improbable Invention of a Lifesaving Treatment,
by Jessica Wapner. Goodreads page is here.

2010 – The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee. It won the 2011 Pulitizer Prize for non-fiction. It is a biography of cancer. It is wonderful.

 Movies and Videos

2015 – PBS turned Emperor of All Maladies into a wonderful miniseries. See this page at PBS for segments and other options.

“Plaintiffs Bar Goes After Police Brutality Cases”

Posted in Litigation Industry

The National Law Journal has now noticed the growth in and value of lawsuits against cops; as shown in a post on August 12, 2015. The article includes the following data point:

“How much cities are paying out to specifically resolve brutality claims and lawsuits is uncertain, but at last month’s National Bar Association conference, James Montgomery, of James D. Montgomery and Associates Ltd. in Chicago, said police misconduct cases have generated a “cottage industry” for lawyers. He said that cities with the nation’s 10 largest police departments have paid $1.2 billion between 2010 and 2014 to resolve them.”


Finally, Equitable Mootness May Be Dead, At Least in the Third Circuit?

Posted in Asbestos Bankruptcy, Constitutional Law/Mass Tort Law, Due Process, GM Bk

Hurray, equitable mootness appears to be dead, at least in the 3rd Circuit.

What is it? In short form, it’s a (nonsensical) rationale for denial of the opportunity to appeal bankruptcy court decisions. Is it in the bankruptcy code? No. Then why does it exist? Because bankruptcy lawyers invented an outcome liked by some, and courts played along for some years, in “the interests of finality.” Lynch mobs also can produce finality.

In 2007-2009, various kind bankruptcy lawyers tried to help me wrap my mind around this invention of bankruptcy lawyers.  But I could not grasp it, and much preferred to note that a law student previously exposed the doctrine as unconstitutional.

Happily, in a recent ruling, the Third Circuit seems to have all but killed the doctrine, with a concurrence taking on the constitutional issues ignored in prior cases. Who says the doctrine probably is dead. The Weil Bankruptcy Blog, in an an August 3, 2015 post that also quotes Wood Allen on death. The post is well worth reading.


CNA Takes An Asbestos Hit the Market Did Not Expect; More “Adverse Development”

Posted in Asbestos, Insurance, Resolute

An August 3, 2015 story in Insurance Insider reports a notable new $150 million second quarter charge taken by CNA for asbestos litigation. The full story is behind a paywall, here.  Last year, CNA took a $479 million charge.

According to the story, “the market” did not see this coming. Perhaps “the market” needs to figure out that asbestos litigation is far from over, and start digging into the details, such as the multi-disciplinary white paper a group of us published last month on asbestos science and law.

Here’s the bottom line part of the CNA and Berkshire story for those in asbestos litigation:

“US-listed carrier CNA saw operating profits halve in the second quarter after a retroactive reinsurance charge relating to its legacy asbestos deal with Berkshire Hathaway impacted the company’s bottom line.

Second quarter operating income totalled $132mn, or $0.49 a share – well below Wall Street analysts’ forecasts of $0.81 a share. The result was also significantly short of the $272mn, or $1.00 a share, of profits generated in the prior-year period.

This came as the ultimate expected loss on the CNA asbestos portfolio reinsured by Berkshire Hathaway in 2010 widened from $2.49bn to $2.64bn. The carrier incurred an additional $150mn of adverse development during the second quarter, which will ultimately be footed by Berkshire Hathaway.

This is $419mn more than the $2.2bn consideration that CNA paid to Berkshire Hathaway in 2010, when it agreed a loss portfolio transfer that saw the conglomerate accept $1.6bn of net liabilities and any deterioration up to an aggregate reinsurance limit of $4.0bn.”