A closer eye

The Madison County Record May 22, 2005, 6:24am

Robert McCoy

Doug Wojcieszak

Live from New York, Part 2

Metro East legal eagles are surely keeping tabs on a New York-based federal grand jury investigation into asbestos and silica litigation fraud.

At issue are ‘mass screenings’ where radiologists—allegedly—team with plaintiff’s attorneys to drum up lawsuit business by falsely diagnosing ‘victims’ for their cases.

In a Texas case last month, several doctors testified that they had had diagnosed diseases in patients with whom they had never met or spoken.

Dicta has learned that there is an early Illinois connection to the investigation. Two Alabama doctors who read chest x-rays for a Mississippi-based mass screening firm have been subpoenaed.

That firm—N & M, Inc.— screened hundreds of potential asbestos plaintiffs in Central Illinois back in 1999 and 2000 for Cascino Vaughn Law Offices out of Chicago.

No word yet as to whether any of those cases made it to Madison County, but that’s the same law firm that teamed up with Granite City’s Bosslet & O’Leary here to win $1 million for welder Larry Elam back in 2003. Elam said welding rods gave him Parkinson’s Disease.

Baby steps

Defense attorneys for Georgia-Pacific and Bondex were indeed thrilled with a Madison County jury’s $500,000 verdict against their clients last week.

Heck-- 78 year-old plaintiff Williard King wanted $50 million from the companies. And the last Madison County jury to hear an asbestos case awarded $250 million. So we understand the feeling of relief.

But even at the reduced rate, some courtroom onlookers felt the defendants got gypped.

The selective memory of King’s daughter, 55 year-old Kathy McClelland, about did it. She precisely remembered the joint compound her father used while remodeling his Fenton, Mo. home, but not the paint, screws, or wallboard.

“It was obvious she was lying,” one source told Dicta. “(King) should have gotten nothing. And she should have been sanctioned.”

Maybe next time.


Dicta sources say the Metro-East’s favorite anti-tort reform activist is looking for a baby doctor.

Victims and Families United chief Doug Wojcieszak’s wife is pregnant. The Record offers congratulations and good luck-- both with the baby and with the doctor.

More than a few medical professionals have told Dicta lately that they try their darndest to avoid treating lawyers. Hard feelings, they say, are as much a reason as fear that they'll end up in court.

Wojcieszak isn't a trial lawyer himself-- but he tends to have the same effect. OB-GYNS, be warned.

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