My New Role as Chair of Public Justice’s Investment Committee
On August 1, 2012, I became the Chair of Public Justice’s Investment Committee, tasked with overseeing the management of the Public Justice endowment, reserve and investment accounts. I will also continue as a member of Public Justice’s Board of Directors.
The Investment Committee aims to preserve capital and earn an adequate return in order to help Public Justice fulfill its mission.
This mission is to use creative litigation, public education and innovative work with the community to protect people and the environment, challenge wrongdoings and injustice, increase access to justice and inspire others to serve the public interest.
I enjoyed working on the Investment Committee this past year and helping it to redo the Public Justice investment policy for submission to the Board of Directors, which approved the new policy at its meeting last month. This will let me leverage my experience as an advisor to asbestos bankruptcy trusts (which currently manage over 20 billion in assets for the benefit of their asbestos victim beneficiaries) and apply it to a different context.
The issue of asbestos bankruptcy trusts came into focus during the summer of 1982, when manufacturers of the carcinogenic material began to file for chapter 11 bankruptcy in order to avoid having to pay compensation to workers and other victims who had been diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases such as lung cancer, asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma.
I have been involved in asbestos litigation since 1974, and during this period had to react to this significant change. This trend of companies seeking bankruptcy protection continued in the 1990s and increased heavily in the 2000s. I have been involved on creditors committees representing asbestos victims in nearly all of those bankruptcies. Kazan, McClain, Lyons, Greenwood and Harley was at the forefront in pushing the courts to protect the rights of mesothelioma victims in the Combustion Engineering bankruptcy, and led the reorganization efforts that produced the Combustion Engineering Trust Fund.
This experience will be a tremendous asset as I take over as Chair of the Investment Committee for the Public Justice Board, and I hope to use the knowledge I’ve gained working with asbestos bankruptcy trusts to continue to protect the best interests of the public and the environment.