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Laminack: clients didn't have asbestosis after all

The following dialogue occurred Aug. 22 in the Texas courtroom of federal judge Janis Graham Jack, as prominent plaintiff's attorney Richard Laminack attempted to explain why so many persons filing silicosis claims turned out to have filed asbestos claims earlier. It appeared last week in the W$J, alongside a scathing editorial, but is worth a reprint for the light it sheds on the unfolding silicosis scandal.

Judge Jack: And do you have the X-rays from the asbestosis claims? Do you have the medical reports from the asbestosis claims? These are your clients. They were supposed to have identified on their original Fact Sheet all of these diagnoses, but apparently failed to do so.

Now what you have here is 70-some-odd percent of your clients that have had both a diagnosis, according to you, of silicosis and asbestosis, which when I heard all the experts in February not a single expert had ever seen a combination of those two. Only plaintiffs' lawyers have seen them. Not a single physician that testified here had ever seen -- they didn't rule out that it wasn't possible, but none of them had ever seen a case of asbestosis and silicosis combined. . . .

I assume that your experts that you've identified are going to explain why some 70% of your clients have both silicosis and asbestosis and how that could possibly have occurred, and I just need to give you fair warning about this because this stretches credibility.

Mr. Laminack: Your Honor, I understand and I don't like it, either. I want the court to know that. I have listened very carefully to everything you've said.

Judge Jack: I appreciate that.

Mr. Laminack: And I've heard your concerns. And --

Judge Jack: But those were February concerns and --

Mr. Laminack: I totally understand. And you bet my experts are going to explain that. I think the explanation on a lot of the cases is the asbestosis diagnosis is wrong.

Judge Jack: Well, that would be a shame, wouldn't it, that your clients made fraudulent claims in asbestosis and now those same people who made fraudulent claims are trying to make another pneumoconiosis claim here. It -- that impacts their credulity tremendously.

I wonder, also, for each of the plaintiffs' lawyers that have these cases, if they have informed their clients once you acquired this diagnosis for your clients that they now have to forever have the diagnosis of a terminal disease, that they're obligated to tell their life insurance carriers. If they acquire new life insurance, if they change health insurance providers, that they have this disease. Do you think that they know this, Mr. Laminack?

Mr. Laminack: Your Honor, that's a very good point. I agree totally with what you're saying. . . . Obviously I don't want to go into what I talked to my clients about --

Judge Jack: I understand.

Mr. Laminack: -- other than to say we have been very candid with our clients about these issues and the repercussions. And your Honor, I've got enough to do. I don't want to represent people that don't have legitimate cases. I don't want to do that. That's not my purpose in being here. All I know is at this point 87 of these Alexander plaintiffs have good, solid Daubert-proof diagnoses of silicosis. They've got it.

Judge Jack: And 70-some-odd percent of those also had apparently solid Daubert-proof asbestosis diagnoses. Did you print off the document for him?

Mr. Laminack: I doubt that.

Judge Jack: Pardon?

Mr. Laminack: I doubt that's true.

Judge Jack: About the asbestosis?

Mr. Laminack: Yes.

Judge Jack: And Mr. Laminack, you can speak on behalf of your clients about that?

Mr. Laminack: As I say, your Honor, I doubt that. I doubt the numbers, and I doubt the diagnosis.

Judge Jack: You doubt that they had claims, or you doubt that they actually had asbestosis?

Mr. Laminack: Both.



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.