A New York doctor who federal prosecutors say helped steer millions in asbestos fees to that state's Assembly speaker also has ties to the Simmons Firm in Alton.
Dr. Robert Taub, identified as "Doctor 1" in court papers, had headed up the Columbia University Mesothelioma Center, a research facility dedicated to curing the asbestos-related disease mesothelioma. Taub was removed from his post on Friday, according to the New York Daily News, after Speaker Sheldon Silver's arrest on Thursday.
According to charges against Silver, the doctor referred patients to the high profile asbestos firm Weitz and Luxenberg, which employed Silver. The cases referred by the doctor generated millions in fees for Silver, and in exchange, prosecutors say, Silver secretly directed state funding to the doctor’s center.
The Daily News reported Jan. 24 that Taub is cooperating with the FBI and has been given a nonprosecution agreement in exchange for his testimony against Silver.
Another article in the New York Times on Jan. 24 notes a $3.15 million connection between Taub and a foundation established by the Simmons firm in 2010 - the Simmons Mesothelioma Foundation.
The article states that, according to court papers, Taub in 2010 began to get financial support from the foundation and to send patients to the Simmons firm.
"In 2010, court papers say, Dr. Taub began to get financial support from a foundation tied to another law firm and to send patients there," the article states. "Columbia’s website notes a $3.15 million commitment for mesothelioma research from the foundation of the “Simmons Law Firm,” an asbestos law firm. In a statement, the firm said it was proud to sponsor research at Columbia and elsewhere."
The complaint against Silver does not name the Simmons firm as one that received patients from Doctor 1. Rather, the complaint states, "Other" law firm.
The Simmons Mesothelioma Foundation website lists the Columbia University Mesothelioma Center as one of six medical centers that it provides funding for "cutting-edge research."
Columbia's research center notes on its site that the Simmons Mesothelioma Foundation provided it with $3.15 million on May 10, 2010.
The Simmons firm has filed the most asbestos cases in Madison County over the past decade, and most of the cases have been brought on behalf of plaintiffs suffering from mesothelioma. The vast majority of cases filed in Madison County, the busiest asbestos docket in the country, are filed on behalf of persons from outside of Illinois.
Last July, the firm formerly known as Simmons, Browder, Gianaris, Angelides & Barnerd merged with the New-York based Hanly, Conroy, Bierstein, Sheridan, Fisher & Hayes LLP to create Simmons Hanly Conroy.
Hanly Conroy primarily handled product-liability cases, such as pharmaceutical and medical-device litigation.