Stop the asbestos surge

The Madison County Record Mar. 16, 2008, 5:00am

If it's ever going to end, the new beginning starts here.

We're talking about America's Great Asbestos Scam. That's the one that put some 40 companies into bankruptcy, and men like John Simmons became rich enough to fly on private jets and buy minor league baseball teams.

Seven fresh asbestos suits were filed in Madison County Circuit Court on March 3 alone, collectively naming a whopping 250 corporate defendants.

Imagine that-- these lawyers are alleging that their clients are sick, and 250 separate defendants are each individually to blame?

How is that possible?

Don't bother asking lawyers from Simmons' law firm, which filed five of the lawsuits, each on behalf of a plaintiff from a different state. Or the infamous Brent Coon, the Beaumont, Texas plaintiff's lawyer for whom Madison County has become something of a second home. He's filed dozens of lawsuits here over the years, this latest one on behalf of a Tennessee man.

If these suits go like most of the others, the lawyers won't have to bother proving actual causation to cash in. They won't have to actually prove the deep-pocketed companies being targeting are responsible for anything. Especially here in Madison County.

Despite the best efforts at sensible reform by Judge Dan Stack, the specter of past asbestos verdicts is still proving magnetic to asbestos lawyers from near and far. Something about this place, we can only surmise, must drive corporate defendants to pay up to get out.

It's either that or Coon likes the Mississippi River scenery enough to bypass dozens of more convenient state jurisdictions.

Why aren't these cases, filed on behalf of plaintiffs from New Hampshire, Texas, North Carolina, Indiana and Michigan, rejected and sent back to the counties from which they came?

They don't belong here. And disposing of them with prejudice is the only way to assure that someday, Madison County's sad asbestos lawsuit legend eventually fades away.

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