Playing the name game

By The Madison County Record | Mar 25, 2015

Which of these two groups would you be more likely to rely on or support: the Foundation for Asbestos Information & Restitution (FAIR), or the Federation for Legislation to Enrich Attorneys (FLEA)?

If you're like most people, you'd assume that the names describe the groups more or less accurately, and that the first is likely to be more objective and less self-serving.

But what if you discovered that both groups were founded and are controlled by the same parties and that both share the same agenda – that there is no significant difference, aside from the labels, between FAIR and FLEA?

You'd no doubt feel that you'd been misled, and you might be more inclined thenceforth to question the legitimacy of groups with nice-sounding names. Some groups are what they say they are. Some aren't. Some are cat's paws, stalking horses, or Judas goats.

Lester Brickman, a professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York, has his doubts about the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO).  While testifying at a Congressional hearing on the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act, Brickman charged that ADAO's position on the proposed legislation is identical to that of plaintiff's lawyers – which is not surprising, given that the organization's “sponsors” include such big-time asbestos litigators as the Simmons Law Firm in Alton.

ADAO contends that the terms of the FACT Act represent “an intrusion of privacy,” Brickman notes, “because it will make all of this medical information available to everyone in the world. But when anyone sues in the tort system, claiming medical injury, they have to disclose all of the facts about the injury and they have to submit to a medical examination by a doctor selected by the defendant.”

Brickman concludes that FACT Act opponents want to keep defendants from accessing trust claim filings and finding out who's double-dipping. But they can't come out and say that, so they have to disguise their real concerns and conceal their true identities.

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