As we celebrate Kazan Law’s 40th anniversary with “Throwback Thursday” posts about the firm’s history, I recall a time not too long ago when the firm almost ceased to exist. Powerful corporate interests fueled a push for federal legislation that would have made all asbestos law firms extinct. And Kazan Law, one of the best asbestos law firms in the US, would no longer have been able to advocate for mesothelioma patients and other asbestos victims whose lives have been devastated by being exposed to asbestos.
The 2005 legislation was cleverly named “The FAIR Act” – The Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act – but it would have been profoundly unfair to those asbestos victims with a claim to bring against a company who had knowingly caused them to be exposed to asbestos.
The FAIR Act, if it had been enacted into law, would have prohibited injured asbestos victims from bringing asbestos claims against individual defendants. They would have had to file asbestos claims with an Orwellian-sounding Office of Asbestos Disease Compensation. This Office would have administered a fund called the Asbestos Injury Claims Resolution Fund. A panel would have determined each victim’s compensation amount, if any. Victims who developed fatal asbestos related cancers such as mesothelioma, asbestosis, or lung cancer would have been limited to $1 million in compensation. Totally inadequate.
Companies guilty of grave misdeeds and crimes against innocent people would have gotten off with a pittance. And I, my partners and my entire staff would have been out of a job.
“I have threatened one of my partners that his new full-time job will be to teach me how to play golf,” I told a reporter for the San Francisco Daily Journal, a local legal newspaper, for an article about the proposed legislation at the time. “I will probably retire.”
That was almost a decade ago. The FAIR Act was an unfair bad idea and it was justifiably defeated. It never became law. Kazan Law has gone on to win multi-million dollar verdicts for our clients, several in this past year. We remain engaged and impassioned about seeking justice for asbestos victims. And I still haven’t needed to learn to play golf.