What constitutes proof of a conspiracy? And what does it take to demonstrate that a toxic substance actually does cause disease?
It is no secret – at least to those who are paying attention – that in the U.S. (and increasingly, around the world), rights and protections for natural human beings are being stripped away while at the same time, corporations are given more rights, more protections – and a whole lot less accountability.
The level to which this trend has gotten could be considered comical if it weren't so tragic. And in Illinois' Fourth District, it is starting to affect the rights of asbestos victims.
Recently, I did a series of posts about a case in that jurisdiction (Holmes v. Honeywell et. al.) in which an appellate judge overturned an earlier award. Since then, the Honorable Judge Scott Drazewski significantly reduced compensatory damages in another case, Rodarmel v. Honeywell et. al., from $2 million to $183,333, after "subtracting amounts other companies had paid to settle Rodarmel's claims" according to the Madison-St. Clair Record.
Now, Rodarmel's attorney, James Wylder, is calling the judge out on this decision, petitioning Illinois' Fourth District Court of Appeals to hear the case once again and reconsider its decision. In essence, Wylder say that the judge in this case "defended Honeywell and Pneumo-Abex better than the companies defended themselves ."
Among other issues, Wylder challenged the judge's finding that the expert witness who cited a 1943 asbestos study "lacked qualifications." The expert witness was Dr. Barry Castleman, who testified that in the study, 9 out of 11 lab mice exposed to asbestos developed tunors. Incredibly, one of the appellate judges wrote:
"We are not qualified to opine that, in the absence of controls, tumors in
eight or nine out of 11 mice - tumors that might not have been malignant –
were scientific evidence of a causal relationship between asbestos and
cancer in humans."
Judge Thomas Appleton, who wrote the opinion, added that Dr. Castleman's qualifications were questionable, adding that he "apparently was not a medical doctor or a veterinarian."
So...what are Dr. Castleman's qualifications?
According to the Global Ban Asbestos Network, Dr. Castleman earned is ScD. degree from the John Hopkins School of Public Health. His area of expertise is chemical and environmental engineering; Dr. Castleman was a speaker at the 2008 Asbestos Disease Awarness Organization conference and is the author of Asbestos: Medical and Legal Aspects, an extensive reference (currently in its 5th edition) that is used by asbestos litigators across the country.
To me, those sound like valid credentials. But wait, it gets better: in Rodarmel, Judge Drazewski allowed evidence demonstrating that Johns-Manville and Bendix conspired to suppress health information by collaborating on a position paper. IN his opinion, Judge Appleton wrote: "If this paper is evidence of a conspiracy, so is the New England Journal of Medicine ."
Apparently, Judge Appleton is unaware of the Sumner Simpson Papers (named in honor of Sumner Simpson, who was the CEO of Raybestos-Manhattan from the mid-1930s through the 1940s), which were discovered by a litigation attorney in 1977 during the course of an asbestos lawsuit. These papers show how asbestos producers came together in 1936 to fund scientific studies on the health effects of asbestos. These studies continued for ten years, at the end of which board members from the major asbestos companies decided that "there would be no publication of the research of experiments without [the group’s] consent." Furthermore, publications "would not include any objectionable material. . .as, for example, any relation between asbestos and cancer."
If this is not proof of a conspiracy, what is?
Bowker, Michael. Fatal Deception. (Emmaus, PA: Rodale Books, 2003).
Korris, Steve. "McClean Asbestos Lawyer Seeks Rehearing At Fourth District." Madison-St. Clair Record, 11 August 2011.
N/A. "Dr. Barry Castleman" (online profile). Global Ban Asbestos Network (http://www.gban.net/2010/11/15/dr-barry-castleman-usa/). Retrieved 11 August 2011.
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