Saturday, March 11, 2006


Revelations of Fraudulence in Mass Tort System

NLPC Urges Congress to Act on Revelations of Fraudulence in Mass Tort System

WASHINGTON, March 9 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) today applauded the House Energy and Commerce Committee's investigations into the mass tort screening process for silicosis cases and the resulting illustration of widespread fraudulence within tort law.

"This hearing once again illustrated the shamelessness of trial lawyers in manufacturing lawsuits with no basis in fact that are designed solely to line their pockets," said Ken Boehm, chairman of the NLPC. "There were no new revelations from the witnesses; the fact that trial lawyers would file thousands of unsupportable lawsuits in order to extort money from businesses should not be a surprise to anyone," Boehm said.

Silicosis is a deadly disease that occurs in workers who breathed tiny sand particles while on the job. Unfortunately, unscrupulous lawyers are manufacturing spurious health claims to extort millions of dollars from defendant companies. In fact, U.S. District Judge Janice Jack last year excoriated lawyers and their "expert witnesses" for essentially filing bogus lawsuits claiming that thousands of plaintiffs were suffering from silicosis. Under the increased level of scrutiny ordered by Judge Jack, most of these cases were found to be baseless.

"This type of behavior has been going on for years in lawsuits over asbestos exposure. The Energy and Commerce Committee hearing provided a long overdue look at how these lawyers operate and the harm they are doing to our legal system," said Boehm. Their blatantly unethical practices need to come to an end. "Congress also needs to step in and change the system to stop this judicial game playing."

Silicosis is not the only medical case where fraudulent activity has been seen. Similar acts are being perpetrated in cases involving asbestos. The U.S. Senate's Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution (FAIR) Act is pending legislation that will stop the fraudulent asbestos lawsuits.

"Enacting the FAIR Act would be a step in the right direction. These lawyers need to realize that in their quest for huge legal fees they are harming businesses, victims, and the entire legal system. It doesn't seem they will get this message without a little help from the U.S. Congress and good judges like Judge Jack," Boehm concluded.

The National Legal and Policy Center promotes ethics in public life through research, education and legal action.

Website: http://www.nlpc.org/

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