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News of the Day ... In Perspective


Ringleaders of silicosis tort scam under grand jury investigation

Prosecutors may finally be starting to hold the trial bar accountable for its abuses. Class-action titan Milberg Weiss is under criminal investigation, and a New York grand jury is investigating the silicosis machine.

A 269-page opinion by Texas federal judge Janis Graham Jack pointed the grand jury toward the corruption involved in almost every one of the 10,000 silicosis claims before her court. “These diagnoses were manufactured for money,” she wrote.

Judge Jack, a former nurse, couldn’t understand how a disease that caused fewer than 200 deaths annually in the entire United States could have resulted in 20,000 claims in Mississippi and surrounding states.

The diagnosis of silicosis was made in 99% of more than 9,000 plaintiffs by the same nine doctors. One admitted that he didn’t even know the criteria for diagnosing the disease, but had simply included a paragraph supplied by the screening company in each of his reports.

The judge also found that more than 65% of the silica plaintiffs had also been plaintiffs in a previous asbestos suit, with the diagnoses made by the same doctors. She stated that statistics alone should have shown the lawyers that their case defied “all medical knowledge and logic,” and that by bringing the suit they had shown a “reckless disregard of the duty owed the court.”

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, Judge Jack has “stalled the entire silicosis scam,” and also opened the door to probing millions of earlier asbestos suits (“The Silicosis Sheriff,” Wall St J 7/14/05).

Additional information:

“Silicosis: Son of Asbestosis?” by Lester Brickman, Benjamin Cardozo School of Law, at upcoming AAPS annual meeting in Arlington, VA, Sept 23. Read More and Register for 2005 Annual Meeting

“Did Flawed Science and Litigation Help Bring Down the World Trade Center?” by Andrew Schlafly, J Am Phys Surg Fall 2003.

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