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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.

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.

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.

Mesothelioma Research Presented by Kazan Law at iMig 2014

I am pleased that our firm was chosen to present three research abstracts at the International Mesothelioma Interest Group (iMig 2014) conference in Cape Town, South Africa. In this video I provide an introduction to the mesothelioma research abstracts and explain how they are presented at the world’s leading conference on mesothelioma.

Kazan Law to Present at World’s Leading Mesothelioma Conference

We are very excited to be heading off to Cape Town, South Africa for the twelfth biennial meeting of the International Mesothelioma Interest Group (iMig 2014).

We are particularly honored that Kazan Law has been chosen to present some of our own research work at this conference. Like the Boston conference in 2012, this year again in Cape Town we are the only law firm in the world whose work has been accepted for presentation.

Kazan Law Mesothelioma Research Abstracts to be Presented at the 2014 International Mesothelioma Interest Group Conference

mesothelioma researchWorking as a mesothelioma attorney for as long as I have, I sometimes come up against mesothelioma research questions I can’t find answers to. Helping mesothelioma patients and their families is something you don’t stop thinking about when you go home in the evening. The plight of these people stays with you. And as important as legal justice is to helping them, medical research is important too.

Because we at Kazan Law are committed to mesothelioma research, we not only help support medical mesothelioma research – we also delve into mesothelioma research to try to find answers.

Several of the mesothelioma research areas we have been working on will be presented at a poster session at the upcoming International Mesothelioma Interest Group conference in Cape Town, South Africa later this month:

A Review of the (Scarce) Literature on Pericardial Malignant Mesothelioma

We generally think of mesothelioma as a disease affecting the lining of the lungs or abdomen. Pericardial mesothelioma develops in the thin membrane surrounding the heart, known as the pericardium. Because it is one of the rarest types of mesothelioma cancers, not as much is known about it. We needed to know more about it. With the help of our research librarian Faith Meltzer, we collected all of the pericardial malignant mesothelioma medical literature and analyzed the results.

Pericardial Mesothelioma: Accidental Treatment & Long-term Survival

This presentation explores an interesting case study of one of our clients. Ronald Nelson was born in 1970 and exposed to asbestos as a child. In 2005, he was diagnosed with pericardial mesothelioma. Surgery was performed on Mr. Nelson in 2007. He lived symptom-free until 2012 – unusual for any type of mesothelioma but especially for pericardial mesothelioma. Mr. Nelson filed suit in August 2012. The case was resolved before he died in 2013, securing the financial future of his family. Associate Ryan Harris worked on this case and poster presentation with me.

Hippocrates and BAP1 Genetic Testing in Mesothelioma Litigation

This presentation focuses on the ethics of performing genetic testing without the patient’s permission or knowledge and using the results against them in a court case. Specifically, we considered the Bap 1 oncosuppressor gene, meaning an inherited factor that makes someone’s immune system less able to fight off substances that can cause cancer. This unethical use of genetic testing is being used to “blame the victim” for carrying this gene for developing mesothelioma from asbestos exposure. Our associate Irena Kin worked on our study of this mesothelioma research question with me.

Kazan Law Attorney Helps Pass Sweeping Worker Safety Law

worker safety lawThanks to over a decade of hard work by Kazan Law Of Counsel and pro bono attorney Fran Schreiberg and others dedicated to worker safety, California just became the first state in the nation to pass a comprehensive toxic protection worker safety law.  It will protect workers from toxins in the workplace as new scientific information about the harm they cause comes to light.

Calling the new worker safety law “groundbreaking,” Fran excitedly reviewed for me in an email when California Governor Jerry Brown officially signed the law, why it is so important.

“It is the first law in the country that requires manufacturers and those in the distribution chain to inform a government agency exactly where they are shipping a toxic material or a mixture containing a toxic material, including the quantity, and the proportions, when there is new scientific or medical information that the substance may pose a hazard in a work place and potentially poses a serious new or unrecognized health hazard, including but not limited to, cancer, reproductive or developmental harm, organ system impairment, or death,” Fran explained.

This information will make it possible for the Hazardous Evaluation System and Information Service (HESIS) to target workers known to be at risk, thereby protecting employers from increased liability and employees’ health from harmful exposure to toxic chemicals in the workplace.

The downside is that the worker safety law does not take effect until January 2016. Fran explained, “The delay is because HESIS will be asking for the preceding year’s information, and it was necessary to give industry notice so they would have customer information available.”

Also the new law does not cover all industrial chemicals, just ones that have been newly found by scientific research to be toxic. But given the power of industry to conceal and cover up misdeeds that put people’s health and the environment at risk – as we in the asbestos litigation field know only too well – the passage of this worker safety law is a major step to be celebrated.

The new toxic protection law formerly was known as Senate Bill 193. It was brought forward by State Senator Bill Monning (D-Carmel). But Fran and other labor advocates worked tirelessly behind the scenes for many years to put together all the necessary information and explain it to other legislators.

Fran reminded those who worked on the lobbying effort, “The initial version of this bill – AB 816 by then- Assembly Member Sally Lieber – was vetoed by then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger back in 2005.  But with your support, we refused to give up.”

“Now it’s over to HESIS to use this power and save lives!!  I am certain they will do that.”

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