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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

The Latest Example of Why Asbestos Trust Claiming Data Should Be Transparent

Asbestos litigation is now yielding yet another example of why there should be transparency on asbestost trust claiming data. Unfortunately, as I’ve been pointing out for years, the formerly somewhat transparent trusts reversed field some years ago started and began hiding claiming data from public view.

The latest example arises from the Peter Angelos firm in Baltimore seeking a consolidated trial for about 13,000 asbestos claimants whose claims were filed but not resolved over many years. The goal of the Angelos firm of course really is a massive settlement payout of the sort insurers and others used to pay to resolve mass-filings of claims Mississippi and other states. For years, the mass filings resulted in mass settlement paid by numerous (but not all) insurers and by numerous (but not all) former product manufacturers. The payors usually (but not always) knew that many or all of the claims were farcical, but paid settlements anyway. They actually or apparently concluded it was cheaper (in the short term) than paying lawyers to do the work to defeat the claims.

Today, buoyed by Judge Jack’s rulings in silica, there are stiffer spines and more investment in attorney’s fees by some insurers and some former manufacturers. Therefore, the claims by the Angelos firm claims are now facing extensive pushback and scrutiny. The result is that data are starting to emerge to show that many of the claims were spawned based on limited work by "experts" with economic conflicts of interest, and dubious procedures and skills. The WSJ today published some of the findings from investigation to date of the claims asserted by the Angelos firm. Part of the investigation was based on old data from the Manville Trust:

"The first discovery was that more than 1,500 claimants were duplicates. Of the remaining 11,383 plaintiffs, nearly 70% had been diagnosed by one or more of the same five doctors. One of the physicians, William Goldiner, diagnosed nearly 50% of the plaintiffs, 77 in one day. When not outputting claims for the tort bar, Dr. Goldiner works as a team doctor for the Baltimore Orioles, which are owned by Peter Angelos. Another doctor, Joseph Kligman, is a former partner of Dr. Goldiner. The other three doctors either prepared reports at Dr. Goldiner’s request or relied on his exams."

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