EPW FACT OF THE DAY: THE TWO ASBESTOS LITIGATION WITNESSES SEN. BOXER DIDN’T TELL YOU ABOUT
June 12, 2007
Posted by Matthew_Dempsey@epw.senate.gov (4:00pm ET)
THE TWO ASBESTOS LITIGATION WITNESSES
SEN. BOXER DIDN’T TELL YOU ABOUT
During today’s EPW Committee hearing, “Examination of the Health Effects of Asbestos and Methods of Mitigating Such Impacts,” Senator Boxer went to great lengths to point out that two of the five witnesses testifying at today’s hearing had testified in asbestos liability litigation. Senator Boxer said, “Let me be clear, I think it’s important that we be totally honest before the committee,” and “I believe it’s important that this information be stated for the record.” She went on to say that banning asbestos would put the trial bar out of business.
FACT: Four of the five witnesses testifying on that panel have testified in asbestos litigation. Dr. Richard Lemen and Barry Castleman have been retained by plaintiff attorneys in asbestos litigation numerous times. Interestingly, Senator Boxer, in the spirit of being open and honest, failed to make clear today that these two witnesses have also participated in trials.
The current legislation, as introduced, expands the definition of what is asbestos beyond what is commonly thought of as asbestos. It bans prismatic rock formations, potentially including the state rock of California. Both Lemen and Castleman, paid experts of the trial bar, supported the expanded definition.
Expanding the definition of asbestos to include these rock-forming non-asbestiform minerals widens the scope of issues that could be attributed to asbestos, despite the fact that these minerals have never been shown to cause the same asbestos-related diseases. Thus, we may actually expand the universe of potential defendants and risk further lining the deep pockets of trial lawyers around the country.
As Senator Inhofe stated in his opening statement at today’s hearing, he believes there is real potential for a bipartisan compromise – if we don’t go beyond what the science shows to be true.