As I’ve mentioned before, due to the ubiquitous presence of asbestos in certain industries all the way until the 1990s, we could see 60,000 or more new mesothelioma cases filed over the next few decades, and it seems there are still many big questions to answer through litigation. We should be talking about ways to streamline that process and, more than that, looking for ways to cure or to prevent mesothelioma.
Yet, when insurance companies and negligent corporations want to avoid responsibility for hurting someone, they try to change the subject by pointing the finger at the trial lawyers. Thus, earlier this week the Wall Street Journal had a long profile of the relationship between the lawyers who represent mesothelioma patients in their claims against the asbestos companies and the doctors who treat mesothelioma patients. In short, nobody funds mesothelioma research — not the government, not the big pharmaceutical companies, and certainly not the companies responsible for poisoning tens of thousands of workers — and thus much of the research money ends up coming from non-profits funded by mesothelioma lawyers who, having spent years watching their clients succumb to mesothelioma, felt compelled to put their own money back into improving treatments and, maybe, finding a cure.
But I bet you already knew where the Wall Street Journal was going with these donations:
The two have forged what has become an increasingly common relationship between a subset of cancer doctors and plaintiffs’ attorneys, sharing what for each is an increasingly scarce but valuable resource: victims of mesothelioma.
It is an unusual alliance in the world of medicine that some ethics experts say blurs ethical lines. This is particularly true when doctors refer patients to attorneys who provide financial support for their medical research.
And there you go: in one fell swoop, people dying of cancer caused by just going to work are reduced a “valuable resource,” and charitable giving is turned into an implied ethical violation, and the handful of doctors capable of treating these patients have a cloud of doubt cast over them. The WSJ then had a companion article about advertising for asbestos lawsuits that relies primarily on remarks by “a provider of Internet marketing software and services” and someone who “specializes reselling domain names he has purchased,” as if either of them had a clue about how mesothelioma clients actually find lawyers.
Let’s put aside the fact that the two WSJ articles reach opposite conclusions — one says the clients are passed along by nefarious doctors, the other says clients are “caught” through blanket television and web advertising — and go back to the accusation that there’s something wrong with mesothelioma lawyers putting money, with no strings attached, into non-profits that grant research funding, and that there’s something wrong with mesothelioma doctors accepting that money to conduct research.