Asbestos attorneys are feeling the earth move under their feet, they're feeling the sky tumbling down, a-tumbling down, and they can't get that Carole King tune out of their heads.
Next in the never-ending, ever-unsettling subconscious queue: the Fifth Dimension and the Beatles.
This is the dawning of the age of transparency, and it's becoming obvious that the sun is going to shine in whether devotees of darkness – and the deeds done in it – want it to or not.
Here comes the sun, from every direction. There's no shade anywhere, nowhere to hide.
Year after year, legislation has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to promote fairness and honesty in asbestos litigation and to increase transparency in asbestos trusts, but it's never gone anywhere. This year is different. This year, with a Republican president in the White House, the bill has a chance of becoming law.
But wait, there's more.
Utah’s Attorney General is suing four of the largest asbestos bankruptcy trusts to make them comply with civil investigative demands from 13 states that think they aren't being reimbursed for Medicare and Medicaid expenses as required by federal law.
Plus, last September, Aetna, Humana, and Unitedhealthcare Services filed a $19 million suit in Texas federal court against six asbestos law firms for failing to use settlement funds to reimburse the insurers for medical coverage their clients received.
And, just last month, General Motors sued asbestos trusts in Delaware, New York, and Pennsylvania bankruptcy courts seeking recovery of trust money paid to the estate of an employee who also received workers’ compensation payments from the automaker to settle asbestos exposure claims.
“If these cases get the attention of the Department of Justice, then it’s a whole new ball game,” says Mark Behrens of Shook, Hardy & Bacon's Public Policy Group in Washington, DC.
It's a new ball game, and the forecast is for a nice sunny day.