Friday, February 04, 2005

Frivolous Asbestos Claims, Part II

Compassionate conservatism is back. You gotta love this guy:
To make our economy stronger and more competitive, America must reward, not punish, the efforts and dreams of entrepreneurs. Small business is the path of advancement, especially for women and minorities, so we must free small businesses from needless regulation and protect honest job creators from junk lawsuits. Justice is distorted, and our economy is held back, by irresponsible class actions and frivolous asbestos claims.
Especially this small business:
The Halliburton Company settled legal claims with about 120 families of asbestos victims in the Pacific Northwest this week, agreeing to pay out $30 million and to create a fund for future victims of the deadly fiber.

The local settlement was part of a $4.3 billion national settlement involving about 250,000 plaintiffs who had sued the company in connection with exposure to asbestos products distributed by Halliburton subsidiaries.
OK, so he's just concerned about women and minorities -- who have never needed no stinkin' regulations or laws to protect their rights.

The only good thing about Bush's SOTU (that's State of the Union, for all of you who want to be cool) is that it has educated bloggers who really hadn't talked about workplace safety and health issues before.

Like Corrente and Skippy the Bush Kangaroo

And the never disappointing Revere at Effect Measure gets justifiably emotional:
No one knows how many asbestos claims are truly "frivolous" (as opposed to all the genuinely important business cases that make up 90% of the civil litigation in this country). But the last time (1979) anyone tried to estimate the percent of actual lost wages and household services recovered by asbestos victims (not including cost of medical care or pain and suffering) who died and sued for an asbestos-related claim, it was about 80%. So of the special set of claimants who died of their disease they weren't even getting compensated for their out of pocket non-medical expenses. Forget pain and suffering (which Bush seems happy to do).

Since then, a minimum of 43,000 more people have died of asbestos-related disease. Those are just the ones that have asbestosis or mesothelioma on their death certificates. The estimate of how many have really died from asbestos exposure at the hands of employers and/or manufacturers who knew of the hazards and didn't tell them, is around 230,000 since 1979. If you ever have seen someone who is a "pulmonary cripple" from asbestos exposure, who can't even get out of bed to go to the bathroom they are so short of breath, or who dies an extremely painful death from mesothelioma, you will never couple the word "frivolous" with asbestos.

If I sound pissed off, I am. Very.