Messages from Paul Safchuck
Report from the Legislation Education
Letter to the New York Times, January
A mesothelioma victim?
Asbestos Safety Information for the World
Trade Center New York City
Report from the Legislation Education
To: Paul Safchuck, President, White Lung Association
Re: U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing On Asbestos Litigation
March 5, 2003
It is strange to arrive two hours early for a committee hearing and find
what appears to be 100 homeless people sitting in a line from the committee
door down the hall of the Hart Senate Office Building.
Actually the people huddled on the hallway floor are "place
keepers". A large, bearded white man in dungarees manages them. He
carefully checks his list to see who is supposed to be saving a place
for whom. Most hold 8.5x11 signs with the names of insurance companies,
trade associations, PR firm and law firms.
Some place savers have been here since six am. A few minutes before
two pm hundreds of well dressed yuppies flood into the "places"
and dispatch the colorfully dressed "place keepers" with yelps
from their cell phones and envelopes of money.
Vice President Joseph Oliver from Belle Vernon, Pa. and Reverend
James Knight from Dundalk, MD, led the White Lung Committee. The committee
distributed over three hundred leaflets explaining the WLA Super Fund
proposal and criticizing the ABA and insurance company scams.
The young woman in a blue suit and backwards nametag seemed to be
running the "floor" of the judiciary committee. She brought
Rev. Knight into the hearing room early and gave him eight seats for Committee
Members in the fourth row of the second section.
There were new restrictions on distribution of literature related to
the hearing. In the past people put statements on a table for everyone
to take. Information brought to the Judiciary Committee by the public
could be included. The WLA Committee presented the attached statement.
However, the distribution of this was held until after the Committee Hearing
and outside of the Hearing Room..
The entire procedure had the aura of bad theater, boring theater, in
which the participants were grinding out the hours. Crocodile tears for
asbestos victims were so intense that the victims required emotional raincoats.
The special interest groups treated our delegation as if they breathed
a special HIV-Leprosy-Ebola germ. However, health professionals, some
lobbyists and the Judiciary Committee staff were kind to us.
Fred Baron, former American Trial Lawyers Association, president,
seemed marginalized in these proceedings. He is perhaps the purest form
of the civil tort attorney and is one of the most honest attorneys the
WLA has spoken with. He has a record to taking legal action to halt nefarious
schemes hatched by Kazen and the insurance companies. His participation
in the creation of the Manville Trust was the best of any attorney.
Orrin Hatch began by whining about the bankrupt companies and how
much their employees and stockholders loose as a result of asbestos litigation.
He seemed to imply free loading workers largely caused the economic crisis
gripping the United States. The "unsick" then were elevated
to the role of "evil doers" who have been screened in a union
parking lot. Then Hatch sounded the theme for the day, "Only Pay
the Truly Sick". Hatch and others began their holier than thou rendition
that the "unsick workers are sucking up all the benefits money.
Hatch had two charts showing increased numbers of cases (NY Times)
and the fact that mesothelioma victims were only receiving 17% of the
settlement dollar. (RAND or their ilk) He then unleashed a very slick
video of mesothelioma victims pleading with Congress to pass legislation
so the "unsick" could not get the compensation dollars of the
truly sick. It brought to mind Jay Goulds statement he could always
buy one half of the working class to fight the other.
Senator Max Baccas gave the best testimony this reporter had ever
heard from him. It seems that thousands of victims including children
in his state (Libby, Mt) have broadened his horizons. In addition, the
bankruptcy of WR Grace means no more contributions to him. The WR Grace
Co. is also fighting the cleanup of asbestos waste left on their property.
They also are fighting the compensation of Montana residents. Whatever
the reason, Max has found "science" and is fighting to preserve
the legal rights of environmentally exposed and non-worker exposure.
Senator Cole of Ohio who wanted the Asbestos Study Group and the
Asbestos Alliance to get together followed Senator Baccas. He also alluded
to the legal crisis made by the "unsick". He lamented the decline
of manufacturing and that the "truly sick" were not getting
their needs met while the unsick were clogging the courts.
Next up were the victims, Mr. Brian Harvey, a mesothelioma victims
now living in Seattle. He was the star in the slick video urging Congress
to clamp down on the "unsick."
Melvin McCandless of Williamston, NC, followed him. He was declared
completely disabled by the state of North Carolina and can barely take
out the trash. Yet under current legislation being considered (SB 413),
he would not be considered disabled. He was probably the most articulate
and accurate witness.
To our amazement, the second best testimony came from David Astern
from the Manville Trust. He stated that the current Nichols Bill (S413)
has criteria that would reduce the amount of cases the Trust sees from
asbestosis from 55,700 a year to 51.
Astern backed the concept of the Asbestos Victims Super fund, but he
called it a Trust.
He admitted the 18 other Trusts would pay even less than the Manville
Trust. He forgot to mention that the White Lung Association had warned
both himself, Steve Kazen and Judges Weinstein and Lifland that they were
"seriously underestimating the amount of asbestos victims who would
file" in their creation of the Manville Trust.
Dennis Archer, the President of the ABA, followed this witness. Archer
was arrogant and very uninformed in his unqualified support to the ABA
Archer was unmoved when other witnesses and Senators said his guidelines
exclude asbestos victims sitting a few feet from him. An asbestos victim,
who was ruled, "totally disabled" by the workers compensation system of
North Carolina, MaCandless, would not be disabled according to Archer,
the ABA and SB 413. His testimony reflected he is either very cold or
uncaring of human misery or he is woefully uninformed. He also railed
against the "unsick" although he never identified one single
individual, nor did anyone else, whom he could say was "unsick"
and yet compensated. He refused to personally endorse the ban of asbestos.
The AFL-CIO lawyer Mr. Hyatt followed him. Labor has no position; they
are buffeted by their decline into oblivion. They are divided by their
past participation in schemes (i.e. Georgine). It is sad. Mr. Hyatt was
also either playing his cards close to the vest or else inadequate in
the knowledge base. Hyatt stated there were 1,000,000 AFL-CIO members
or retirees with asbestos related disease. He said they backed the superfund
approach. He did not back ABA or SB 413. He refused to endorse the ban
After Hyatt was the plaintiff lawyer, Steve Kazan. His imitation of the
"genuflecting scribe" was wooden and fake. He referred to Senator
Hatch as "your honor" and Hatch was very complimentary and respectful
of Kazan. Senator Hatch wanted everyone to know that Steve was "the
man". His one remaining attribute is that Laurie is his sister, a
fact that he bantered about with effective pride.
The room was filled with attorneys, paralegals, lobbyists, communications
and public relation professional workers. The WLA Committee estimated
over 1.2 million dollars was spent. This money was squandered while these
hypocrites criticize workers who must file due to the statue of limitation.
For years the insurance companies have agreed to pay much less up front
before the horrors of the disease kick in rather than have an asbestos
victim on oxygen before a jury. They know they ration of early payout
is as great as 100 to 1. That is they cancel an eventual 473,000-dollar
claim for less than five thousand dollars.
Now these same companies and hundreds of others who profited from
asbestos use or purchased companies who profited from it want to change
the rules. After all the "reforms", "class actions"
and "consolidations" and "Trusts" that these same
people created, have failed, they want to change the rules again. What
they fail to see is that asbestos is very poisonous and has diseased millions
of people and is continuing to do so. The financial and medical needs
of our country, due to the asbestos contamination, need to be addresses
But no, each of these monsters wants only to better themselves and their
masters as the needs of society perish. Whom will they consume now. Only
the asbestos victims are left. Very little truth managed to find its way
into this hearing. Most facts were dressed and twisted for the private
gain of a few. It was so sad to see the huge amount of money and effort,
which could have been used to help asbestos victims, instead being used
to make them fight amongst themselves for the last dollar.
Senator Specter said little, as did Senator Kennedy. Senator Lehy
made it clear he was a lap dog to Hatch. He talked a great deal about
how this bill had bi partisan support. Hatch announced that the end of
March a bill would be out and that these are the last of the hearings.
Senator Hatch leered at Lehy as he acknowledged the "help" and
cooperation of the Democratic Party. The perfume of Senate Solidarity
was strong and insipid.
So many real issues of human health, exposure and health care are
being ignored in this rush to judgment. What will happen to those exposed
daily to asbestos in place or asbestos which is improperly removed, become
the victims of the future. Senator Nichols and many others continue the
myth of asbestos victims coming from the "pre-regulation" days
of the fifties and sixties.
Summary: The fix appears to be in and all efforts are being
made to use federal law to circumvent state law in regard to the conditions
one must produce to file for compensation. Most of the people today who
are considered victims of asbestos disease because they have millions
of asbestos fibers destroying their lungs, causing infections and heart
attacks, causing cancer and restricting breathing which increases 'flu'
These people would be excluded from compensation. As Astern stated the
reduction would be about 97%. The witnesses, with the exception of MaCandless,
acted like shortness of breath was not a problem. They are preparing to
install these draconian restrictions, which fly in the face of medical
science. Those who appeared, with the exception of MaCandless and possibly
Astern, did not represent asbestos victims. The Hearing was a lopsided
"rush" to judgment to disenfranchise millions while money absolutely
rules in Washington.
4/16/05: Spectre to Introduce
U.S. Asbestos Bill This Week
5/22/05: Individuals Injured
by Asbestos Exposure Oppose Specter's Trust Fund Legislation
10/16/05: Victim's Organizations
Form Asbestos Victims Coalition in Opposition to Asbestos Trust
11/17/05: White Lung Mourns Jose
12/18/05: Frist Introducing Asbestos
Bill in January
12/04/06: Asbestos Watch Newsletter:
Help Celebrate the 27th Anniversary of the WHITE LUNG ASSOCIATION
Asbestos Victim's Superfund
Asbestos Watch March 14, 2005 (Maryland
chapter of the White Lung Association meetings)
Directorate of Safety, Health,
and Environment (open letter)
Joe Oliver's Alerts:
Joe Oliver, National Board Member and former President of the
White Lung Association, has issued a call to all persons to help
gather evidence on the conspiracy by asbestos trade organizations
to suppress the knowledge about the hazards of asbestos exposure.
If you know anything about this horrific history or have documents
which can be used to further prove their heinous crimes, please
contact Joe Oliver, WLA, POB 1483, Balt. MD 21203.
The White Lung Association stands
in opposition to The Specter Bill (S.852)
S.1115: Bill to amend the Toxic Substances
Control Act to reduce the health risks posed by asbestos-containing
products - This bill is supported by the WLA.
Meet Mr. Asbestos
Proceedings of the Asbestos
Symposium for the Asian Countries - now available for purchase.
Senator Specter Breaks Promise to
Mesothelioma Patient and Research Community
Senate Judiciary Committee returns to
Mark-Up on May 11th: Proposed asbestos trust fund legislation
will further penalize victims of asbestos-caused diseases
May 2003, the Global Environment & Technology Foundation developed
the "Asbestos Strategies" report.
The latest issue is Spring 2005
The latest issue is January 4, 2007
December 17, 2000 is Asbestos Hazard Awareness Day
Articles & Publications:
Occupational Respiratory Diseases:
Asbestos Associated Disease -- Reprinted from: Maxcy-Rosenau
Public Health and Preventative Medicine 11th ed. (John
M. Last, Ed.) 1980, Appleton-Century-Crofts
Asbestos Victims Deserve Compensation
Not Betrayal: position release by the Board of Directors, White
Paul Safchuck May
Nicholson Dies at 70
Ray Sentes Brave
Fighter For Asbestos Victims