Mobile Register on silicosis scandal

The gigantic silicosis/asbestos screening scandal recently laid bare in a Texas courtroom (see Ted’s and my extensive coverage at Point of Law, also this site May 19, 2005 and — we were on to this early — Sept. 13 and Nov. 12, 2003) originated with the sworn testimony of a Mobile, Ala. radiologist last October; George Martindale’s deposition set in motion a chain of events that led federal judge Janis Graham Jack to issue a scathing 249-page court order Jun. 30 charging that 10,000 silicosis cases before her courtroom had been “manufactured for money”. Now reporter Eddie Curran of the Mobile Register, whose work we’ve saluted before, is out with an investigative piece that makes compelling reading. (Eddie Curran, “Judge torches silicosis testing”, Mobile Register, Jul. 31).

Roger Parloff also tackles the scandal at length and exceptionally well in Fortune, as usual behind a subscriber-only screen (“Diagnosing for Dollars”, Jun. 13). An opinion piece by Luke Boggs in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (“Frivolous claims spur backlash”, Jun. 14) comments: “While sleazy lawyers have traditionally chased ambulances, attorneys in the silica case didn’t trail anyone to a medical facility. Instead, they set up their own, putting an X-ray machine and a doctor in a trailer in a restaurant parking lot. Seriously. Not only that, but the X-ray machine was owned by a real estate broker, the doctor wasn’t a radiologist, and no one had a license to take X-rays.” On the reverberations that continue to echo from the scandal in the mass-tort business nationwide, see Peter Geier, “Silica Case Seen as Breakthrough”, National Law Journal, Aug. 4, and “Breathing Down on California: Texans charge into state with sometimes shady silicosis suits”, The Recorder, Jun. 3, reprinted at Texans for Lawsuit Reform site.

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