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Mesothelioma Lawyers Help Fund Public Justice Attorney

Mesothelioma Lawyers

Jennifer Bennett
Photo credit: Public Justice

Because of what we have learned in our practice as mesothelioma lawyers, we give back in the area of safeguarding public justice. It is one of our guiding principles at Kazan Law. We fund mesothelioma research to help find new treatments for this terrible disease.  But we also help fund nonprofit groups who are trying to help keep the scales of justice balanced.

One of the organizations that we support is aptly named Public Justice.  Based in Washington D.C. and Oakland, it is widely considered to be America’s leading public interest law firm. According to its mission statement, it:

  • protects people and the environment
  • holds the powerful accountable
  • challenges government, corporate, and individual wrongdoing
  • increases access to justice
  • combats threats to our justice system
  • inspires lawyers and others to serve the public interest

Kazan Law helps fund Public Justice by co-underwriting together with another firm a full-time position for one of their attorneys.

Jennifer Bennett is the Kazan Budd attorney for Public Justice.  She works in the organization’s Oakland, California office.

Jennifer graduated in 2010 from Yale, one of the top law schools in the country. While there, she was a senior editor of the Yale Law Journal, managing editor of the Yale Law & Policy Review and received honors from the Dean. She could have become a big corporate lawyer. But instead Jennifer chose the path of public justice and to defend the defenseless. While still at Yale, she was a member of the Worker and Immigrant Rights Advocacy Clinic, which represents immigrants and low-wage workers in labor, immigration and civil rights cases.

Currently she is working on a public safety case involving Chrysler, the maker of Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles. She is providing legal support for the Center for Auto Safety and drivers in several states in a class action suit alleging not only that certain Chrysler models are defective, but that the company has known about – and concealed – the defect for years.

“The public has a right to know whether (or not) there’s evidence that the cars they are driving might kill them,” Jennifer states in a recent post she wrote for the Public Justice blog.  With public safety at risk and lives possibly endangered because alleged corporate neglect, this sounds like our kind of fight. All of us mesothelioma lawyers and our support staff at Kazan Law are proud to sponsor this public-minded attorney in her important work.

As mesothelioma lawyers who seek justice for innocent people exposed to asbestos, we have seen many, many times the tragic results when corporations are unimpeded in their drive to place profits over people and basic decency. We as a people cannot trust these business entities with public safety any more than you can expect the proverbial fox to guard the chickens.

Asbestos Bankruptcy Trusts Explained

Asbestos bankruptcy trusts are a complex but important aspect of asbestos litigation. This is video of the presentation I was asked to give on how asbestos bankruptcy trusts work at the 2014 International Mesothelioma Interest Group conference in Cape Town, South Africa last month. Here are some highlights.

How Asbestos Bankruptcy Trusts Started

The asbestos bankruptcy industry – and I call it that- started in 1982 with the first asbestos bankruptcies. There are now about 50 asbestos bankruptcy trusts. They came about because of asbestos litigation –and corporate decisions to evade full responsibility for the death and disease they caused– we sued enough companies often enough and beat them badly enough that many of them decided they had enough and needed to find a legal way to pay up and move on.

I have been involved with almost all of these bankruptcies and resulting trusts since the beginning, often as a chair or co-chair of what is known as the victims’ creditors or advisory committees.  That means I am one of the watchdogs who help make sure that the victims’ interests are being served.  In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported that our firm is involved with more trusts and handle more trust funds than any other American law firm.

Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Assets and Payouts

The US bankruptcy trusts to date have already paid out over $21 billion dollars.

We’ve put together a list of their assets which is a daunting task because it requires us to dig through a lot of records filed with the courts.

This year’s figures aren’t public but as of the end of last year, the asbestos bankruptcy trusts together have close to $32 billion dollars in assets. This is money that is set aside to be paid out over the next 30 to 40 years to asbestos victims.  The funds earn about 5 percent annually on their investments so they will ultimately pay out well above their current asset total.

The bulk of the funds go to mesothelioma cases. The amount paid on each case is based on the number of present cases and how many cases are projected for the future divided into the amount in each trust. Under this formula, a typical shipyard worker or construction worker with mesothelioma would receive about $260,000.

Are You Eligible To Receive Funds From an Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust?

To be eligible to receive funds from a bankruptcy trust, you do not need to prove that the company’s products contained asbestos. The companies involved have admitted that their products contained asbestos and were handled by workers at sites around the country and aboard many ships. We’ve got lists of them. There are 115,000 identified sites in the U.S. plus 19,000 ships. You just need to prove that you worked at one of them and that you are now ill.

All the trusts provide information on how to file a claim on their websites. We’ve made the procedures the same for each trust.

For a claim to be approved you must show:

  • Exposure to a product of the company for which that trust is responsible, when and where you worked and your trade or job, and what asbestos disease you have.
  • Claimant’s occupation when claimant worked with the product
  • Time period claimant worked with the product
  • Asbestos-related disease
  • Who claimant’s dependents are
  • Claimant’s medical expenses and/or economic loss (optional]

If you have any questions about asbestos bankruptcy trusts after you watch the video, please email me and I will answer them for you.

Who is Most Likely to Be a Victim of Asbestos Exposure?

asbestos exposureAsbestos exposure can happen to anyone. Contrary to common perceptions, asbestos exposure cuts across all socio-economic lines and occupations. A retired judge in New Jersey recently claimed that asbestos exposure in the courthouse where he presided caused him to develop cancer.

Amos Saunders, 80, said he was a victim of asbestos exposure throughout his 23 years as a judge in a Passaic County courthouse and that exposure led to his developing adenocarcinoma, according to The New Jersey Law Journal.

Saunders is suing Passaic County and two companies who performed asbestos removal work at the courthouse in the 1980s.

Why is Asbestos Exposure Dangerous?

People may be exposed to asbestos in their workplace, their communities, or their homes, according to the National Cancer Institute. When older homes or commercial buildings or products containing asbestos are dismantled or renovated, tiny asbestos fibers can get released into the air. When asbestos fibers are breathed in, they may get trapped in the lungs and remain there. They cause scarring and inflammation, which eventually interferes with breathing and can trigger lethal cancers such as mesothelioma.

Asbestos has been classified as a known human carcinogen (a substance that causes cancer) by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the EPA, and the International Agency for Research on Cancer Studies.

Who is Most Likely to Be a Victim of Asbestos Exposure?

People who have worked in certain occupations, such as construction workers, electricians, firefighters, car part production and car mechanics and those who served in the military, are at risk for the effects of asbestos exposure. So are members of their families who were exposed to the asbestos dust these workers unknowingly brought into the home on their clothes and tools.

But asbestos knows no occupation status or tax bracket. Even England’s Prince William and his family had to quickly move out of Kensington Palace during the removal asbestos discovered during repairs to their renowned ancestral home.

Palaces, courthouses and office buildings can be sources of asbestos exposure as much as shipyards and automobile plants. Unfortunately, because of many businesses prizing profits above people’s safety, we are all at risk for asbestos exposure. It is everyone’s problem.

Your Mesothelioma Settlement and Safe Investing

This is a guest post by Patrick Collins of Schultz Collins Lawson Chambers, Inc., the firm we hired to advise us on how to handle Kazan Law’s pension funds, our charitable foundation’s funds, and that some of our partners hired to advise them on personal money management.

You cannot take fifteen pounds out of a ten pound sack. If a “safe” investment like a CD is unlikely to provide the funds for your critical lifestyle objectives, then that investment is not safe. 

mesothelioma settlementOK—you have made a budget for your mesothelioma settlement and you figure out that you need $x per month to pay for your target standard of living. Let’s say that you are age 60 and you want a $1 million nest egg to fund family-related expenses of $5,000 per month for 30 years. You realize two things: (1) that the cost of goods and services tend to go up in the future so you will have to adjust the $5,000 per month upwards to keep pace with inflation; and, (2) that investing means putting some or all of your money at risk. Ideally, you would like to preserve your target lifestyle by putting your nest-egg in safe one-year CDs at the bank.

You now have arrived at step two in the process of deciding how much risk, if any, you need to take with your mesothelioma settlement. So the big question is: how much money can you spend without taking any investment risk? In this example, if you can generate a 30-year income stream with a CD that does not put your mesothelioma settlement nest-egg at risk, you don’t need to own any risky investments.   You may want to own some growth-oriented investments; but you don’t need to own them.

Here is the central point: You cannot take fifteen pounds out of a ten pound sack. If a “safe” investment like a CD is unlikely to provide the funds for your critical lifestyle objectives, then that investment is not safe. It is unsuitable for you. This may be surprising because most consumer protection laws protect people from speculative or fraudulent investment schemes. However, in some situations, it is just as damaging to avoid risk as it is to take too much risk.

The posts provided by Schultz Collins Lawson Chambers, Inc. [SCLC] convey information on basic investment concepts.  They are intended to facilitate prudent investment decision making.   They should not, however, be the sole factor in making investment decisions; and, they are not intended to act as advice or recommendations for any specific investor.  SCLC acts as Independent Investment Counsel and is a Registered Investment Advisor.  It does not provide legal, accounting or tax advice; and the opinions expressed in the posts are solely those of SCLC.  You can find additional information about SCLC, their personnel, and client services at www.schultzcollins.com.

Veterans Face Higher Risk for Mesothelioma

Veterans DayAs we observe Veterans Day on November 11, it is important to remember that veterans face higher risks for developing mesothelioma. Yes, sadly not only did our brave men and women in the armed forces confront gunfire and bombs from enemy forces and endure harsh battle conditions in far-off foreign lands, our veterans also face death from exposure to asbestos in the very ships and aircraft in which they served our country.

Symptoms of asbestos-related diseases, such as shortness of breath, coughing, and chest pain, often do not appear until 20 to 50 years after the exposure. These symptoms often indicate the presence of mesothelioma, a cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, and sometimes also the heart and abdomen.

While veterans represent 8% of our nation’s population, veterans comprise 30% of all known mesothelioma deaths that have occurred in this country.

How Veterans may have been exposed to asbestos

According to information from the Veterans Administration, veterans who served in any of the following occupations may have been exposed to asbestos: mining, milling, shipyard work, insulation work, demolition of old buildings, carpentry and construction, manufacturing and installation of products such as flooring and roofing.

Veterans who served in Iraq and other countries in that region could have been exposed to asbestos when older buildings were damaged and the contaminant released into the air.

Why Veterans Were Exposed to Asbestos

Asbestos was used in nearly every branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. The most common risks for asbestos exposure resulted from insulation used in ships, vehicles, and aircraft from the early 1900s until the 1970s.

A fire at sea aboard a warship would have caused a huge loss of lives and loss of a major Navy asset. The same could be said about the potential for exploding fighter planes. Asbestos seemed at the time a way to prevent these catastrophes. Because of its insulating properties, the extensive asbestos was a key aspect in the construction of ships, planes and other warcraft for many years.

Thousands of veterans have since suffered related illnesses due to exposure during their service.

Compensation benefits for health problems

Veterans may file a claim for disability compensation for health problems related to exposure to asbestos during military service. You can File a claim online with the VA. Every veteran has ‎the right to sue and that’s why they need a good attorney to help them.

Accidental Mesothelioma Treatment Led to Longest Survival in Medical Literature

In this video I discuss the case of a Kazan Law client whose misdiagnosis and subsequent treatment led to the longest mesothelioma survival documented in medical literature. The lesson is that aggressive mesothelioma treatment–surgery–can significantly prolong a person’s life.

The Ammunition to Win Your Mesothelioma Lawsuit

mesothelioma lawsuitWhether or not you win your mesothelioma lawsuit hinges on many factors. Because some are not in your control, it is crucial that you determine what is in your control and do your utmost to provide very best most thorough information you can in those areas. Your attorney should guide you in this. That is why it is so important to choose an experienced top quality lawyer to handle your mesothelioma lawsuit and not just someone promoting themselves on a late night commercial.

Pennsylvania Mesothelioma Lawsuit Dismissed For Lack of Evidence

A Pennsylvania higher court recently threw out a widow’s mesothelioma lawsuit against several large companies because of speculative evidence. The widow was relying solely on one of her husband’s coworker’s memory of asbestos in the products at various sites where they worked as bricklayers. The courts ruled this was not enough.

I read about this case in Legal Newsline, a law newsletter. The article stated that the key witness was allowed to rely just on his own “knowledge and belief” that certain products contained asbestos. An appellate judge upheld a lower court decision that this was “speculative” and dismissed the case.

This decision is good news for the defendants General Electric Company, Georgia Pacific LLC, CBS Corporation-Westinghouse, Goulds Pumps, Inc., Zurn Industries and Trane US Inc. because now they do not have pay for the harm they allegedly caused Henry Krauss. Mr. Krauss died from mesothelioma, a cancer caused only by asbestos exposure. His widow Colleen Krauss brought the mesothelioma lawsuit.

The Evidence Needed to Win a Mesothelioma Lawsuit

In our firm’s 40 years of filing over 2,000 cases, winning multi-million dollar verdicts for our clients and pioneering precedent-setting asbestos litigation, we have developed expertise in mesothelioma lawsuits. We know the intricacies of asbestos litigation and what it takes to successfully take a case through the court system. Our team of experienced lawyers, paralegals and investigators track down company memos, reports and in a recent case, a 50 year-old product catalog to provide the evidence the courts require to successfully move a mesothelioma lawsuit forward. Learn more here about what information you need to prove asbestos exposure in a mesothelioma lawsuit.

Specific evidence is vital. It exists and can be found. Our case histories are proof. Lawyers with fancy ads but without adequate experience, staff and financial resources to invest in a case are less likely to do the work needed to find the evidence it takes to win. You only have one case – if you pick the best lawyer you have the best‎ chance to win.

Promising Mesothelioma Research Nets Awards For Young Scientists

mesothelioma researchMesothelioma research can be expected to make great strides in the coming years thanks to new exciting work underway now all over the world by young scientific investigators. Five of this promising group just received the Young Investigator Travel Awards at the twelfth biennial meeting of the International Mesothelioma Interest Group (iMig 2014), held in Capetown, South Africa. Our firm is proud to have initiated this important award in 2008 and to continue to sponsor it. On behalf of all of us at Kazan, McClain, Satterley and Greenwood, we would like to offer our congratulations on receiving the Young Investigator Travel Awards to each of these promising young mesothelioma research scientists.

Their achievements are a source of pride and inspiration to all of us involved in mesothelioma who seek new pathways to treat and cure this devastating disease. We hope they realize how many people – those with mesothelioma, their families and those of us who strive to help them medically and legally – appreciate the outstanding work they are doing in this field.

It is always a pleasure to see hard-working forward-thinking young researchers receiving the recognition they deserve. The award reflects the endless hours they have spent in their labs on their mesothelioma research projects.

We look forward to seeing the results of their future work in mesothelioma research and wish them every success.

2014 iMig Young Investigator Award Recipients

Sébastien Anguille, MD is a researcher at the University of Antwerp and Antwerp University Hospital
Edegem Belgium. He is one of the authors of a recent paper “Dendritic cell vaccination in malignant pleural mesothelioma: A phase I/II study” published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Lincun Wu, MD is a research associate with the University Health Network in Toronto, Canada’s Mesothelioma Research Program at the Princess Margaret Cancer Center. There, Dr. Wu is involved in a research project to improve the outcome of mesothelioma by combining chemotherapy with immunotherapy.

Alistair Cook, PhD is a research assistant professor in the School of Medicine and Pharmacology of the University of Western Australia. He is the lead author of a recent study about a potential new way to improve anti-tumor immunity or chemo-immunotherapy efficacy in mesothelioma treatment.

Tanguy Siewert, MD is an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Chicago. He specializes in head, neck and lung cancers. He studies which novel drugs appear most promising, which individual tumors are more likely to respond to these treatments, and how to successfully combine therapies. Dr. Seiwert uses this pre-clinical knowledge to develop new treatments for use in clinical trials, and to ultimately improve patient care.

Kimberly Birnie is earning a PhD at the Lung Institute of the University of Western Australia where she is focused on malignant mesothelioma research. She has been recognized by the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand for her work

Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Funds Update

I was honored to have been asked to give an oral presentation on changes in the U.S. asbestos bankruptcy trust fund system at the 2014 conference of the International Mesothelioma Interest Group (iMig) this week in Cape Town, South Africa.

This video will give you a basic understanding of asbestos bankruptcy trust funds and who is eligible to file a claim.

Mesothelioma Litigation, Hippocrates and BAP1 Genetic Testing

In one of the three abstracts we are proud to be presenting at the International Mesothelioma Interest Group‘s (iMig 2014) conference in Cape Town, South Africa, Kazan Law associate Irena Kin worked with me on Mesothelioma Litigation, Hippocrates and BAP1 Genetic Testing.

Recent medical research has shown that there is a predisposition to mesothelioma in some individuals because of their genetics. Companies who are sued in mesothelioma lawsuits try to use this information as a defense. Kazan Law associate attorney Irena Kin discusses the importance for medical professionals hired by mesothelioma defense attorneys to understand and follow their ethical duties.

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