The real asbestos crisis…
…has nothing to with lawsuits. It has everything to do with the fact that people are still being exposed to the stuff in their workplaces, their homes, and the beach:
If you're headed to Illinois' most popular beach this weekend, what do you know about asbestos fibers in the sand you'll be sitting on or your kid is making a sandcastle with?
Not nearly enough.
"Asbestos" and "beach" don't usually land in the same sentence. Then again, it was 11 years ago that the Sun-Times, in a 1997 investigative series, revealed the presence of asbestos fibers and asbestos-containing material at Illinois Beach State Park.
The park runs for 6½ miles along Lake Michigan, from the Wisconsin state line to just north of Waukegan. Two million people visit every year.
For more than a decade, state and federal officials have said the beach is safe, even though internal documents from EPA experts raised serious questions. And even though a 2006 study showed "significantly elevated" levels of asbestos at the park, including amphibole, the most toxic kind.
I just love how the “reform” movement tries to sweep the asbestos scandal under the rug and instead acts as though the real public crisis is that lawyers are filing lawsuits on behalf of people who contracted mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos. Sorry if I couldn’t care less about lawsuits when so many thousands of Americans have died or are dying from mesothelioma. I’ll probably write something more detailed later, but here’s the asbestos story in a nutshell:
In the early 1900’s, asbestos companies began to suspect their products were causing cancer in workers. By the 1930’s, they knew it for sure and were terrified of being sued by sick workers. So they (a) hid the dangers, and (b) pushed for workers’ compensation laws to prevent them from being sued. After about forty years of cover up, documents were finally unearthed by “greedy trial lawyers” that proved companies like Johns Manville purposely let their employees and customers die from cancer just to make a buck. Proving that sometimes people do get what they deserve, many of the architects of this cover-up themselves died of mesothelioma.
Rather than reach out to help the legitimate victims of mesothelioma, the “reform” movement instead highlights fraudulent or questionable cases of mesothelioma and has tried to make trial lawyers into the bad guys. I’ll just point out that even the most unethical trial lawyer isn’t responsible for the painful, costly deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. You be the judge of who the bad guys are.