Did you know that MSNBC talk host and former Republican Congressman Joe Scarborough is an attorney with Pensacola, Fla.’s Levin Papantonio, one of the nation’s premier mass tort firms, which has its fingers in everything from asbestos, breast implants and prescription drugs to aviation accidents to tobacco to Wall Street to environmentalist assaults on factory farming? Or that Scarborough continues on the firm’s payroll despite his on-air fame? We didn’t. Now Scarborough has gotten in a bit of trouble by inviting name partner Mike Papantonio to come on the show and attack “a wood-preserving company called Osmose, saying it makes a dangerous product used in playground equipment and has ‘figured out how to poison our children and make a profit in the meantime.'” — all without mentioning that Papantonio is his law partner and that his/their firm happens to be suing Osmose. (Howard Kurtz, “MSNBC Host Gets Bitten by His ‘Rat of the Week'”, Washington Post, Sept. 13; Doug Haller, “Joe-TV”, Pensacola News Journal, Sept. 14). Radley Balko and Arthur Silber comment. (Update Jan. 3: Scarborough ceases taking stipends from law firm).
How dangerous is “pressure-treated” (chemically preserved) wood, anyway? Once you get past the scare-headlines about arsenic on the playground, the National Law Journal noted in March that trial lawyers suing makers of the wood have enjoyed very limited success, one reason being that there is no particular illness that predictably results from routine exposure to chromated copper arsenate (CCA). Take care not to inhale gusts of sawdust or fumes from burning wood, and it seems you’re unlikely to have anything to worry about (David Hechler, “The Poisoned Wood Mystery”, National Law Journal, Mar. 20)