(c) 2022 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query WR Grace. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query WR Grace. Sort by date Show all posts

Thursday, February 19, 2009

WR Grace Officials on Trial

The focus of litigation against WR Grace has now shifted to the civil courts in a trial against 5 former company officials for damages resulting from the death and harm caused its former workers. In Libby Montana, WR Grace mined asbestos (vemiculite) ore that ultimately was manufactured into insulation and other products.

Five former officials of WR Grace, an asbestos producer, are standing trial for concealing information from the former employees and for not taking the appropriate action to protect their health. The criminal trial has been delayed since 2006 because of pending appeals.

The company has recently filed an amended reorganization plan on Feb. 3, 2009. The plan contains the following comments about workers' compensation claims:

WR Grace - Proposed First Amended Reoganization Plan 2-3-09
"3.1.4 Class 4. Workers’ Compensation Claims
(a) Classification Class 4 consists of all Workers’ Compensation Claims against the Debtors.

(b) Treatment This Plan leaves unaltered the legal, equitable, and contractual rights to which each such Workers’ Compensation Claim entitles the Holder of such Workers’ Compensation Claim. For the avoidance of doubt, in no event shall any of the Sealed Air Indemnified Parties or the Fresenius Indemnified Parties have any liability with respect to any Workers’ Compensation Claim.
(c) Impairment and VotingClass 4 is unimpaired. The Holders of the Workers’ Compensation Claims in Class 4 aredeemed to to have voted to accept this Plan and, accordingly, their separate vote will not be solicited."

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

WR Grace Asbestos Bankruptcy Plan Receives Initial Approval

A Delaware Bankruptcy Judge has approved a reorganization plan  for the former asbestos manufacturer, WR Grace. The company sought bankruptcy protection in 2001 from asbestos liabilities. The reorganization plan provides for the payment of benefits to victims of asbestos related disease.The proposed plan now must be reviewed by a US District Court Judge for final approval.

Asbestos exposure results in progressive and latent diseases including: asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. There is no known cure for mesothelioma, a rare and fatal disease. The use of asbestos is not yet banned in the US.

WR Grace manufactured asbestos insulation, Zonolite, and other asbestos containing products . For many years it mined asbestos in Libby, Montana, and left  behind a legacy of disease to its former employees and residence of the mining community. Last year, the US Congress passed and the President signed, a national health care bill that provided medical coverage under Medicare for those who worked and/or resided in Libby, Montana.

Once the US District Court finalizes approval of the plan, the present and futures asbestos victims trusts will begin processing claims for payment.

Monday, April 12, 2010

The Health Reform Act Charts a New Course for Occupational Health Care

The occupational healthcare program embodied in the recently enacted legislation has the potential for being the most extensive, effective and innovated system ever enacted for delivering medical care to injured workers. The “Libby Care” provisions, and its envisioned prodigies, will embrace more exposed workers, diseases and geographical locations, than any other program of the past. Potential pilot programs  will now be available to injured workers and their families who have become victims of the failed workers’ compensation occupational disease medical care system.
The legislation initially establishes a program for the identification, monitoring and treatment of those who were exposed to asbestos in Libby Montana where W.R. Grace formerly operated an asbestos (vermiculite) mine producing, among other things, attic insulation. The plant belched thousands of pounds of asbestos fiber into the air of the geographical area daily. Libby Montana has been declared a Federal Superfund Site and the asbestos disease that remains as its legacy has been declared a National Public Health Emergency.
The newly enacted national health care law will have profound effect upon the treatment of occupational disease.  Placed deep within the text of the bill (H.R. 3590), on page 836 (Section 1881A Medical Coverage for Individuals Exposed to Environmental Health Hazards), is the new occupational medical care model, “Libby Care.”  The Manager’s Amendment, embracing the concept of universal occupational health care, inserted in the final moments of the debate, will make all the difference in world to the future of medical care and the handling of work-related illnesses.
What We Learned From History
Historically it is well known that occupational diseases are problematic issues confronting workers’ compensation.They are problematic for all stakeholders in the system. For employers, it is difficult to defend a claim that may occur over a lengthy working period, ie. 280 days per year. Defending occupational disease claims has always been an elusive and a costly goal for employers and insurance carriers. Employees also are confronted with obstacles in obtaining timely medical benefits. Occupational disease claims are universally contested matter and medical care is therefore delayed until the claim is successfully litigated and potentially appealed. This process results in delay and denial of medical care and sometimes death.
In the 1950’s the insurance industry put tag-along verbiage in the statute to modify the 1911 workers’ compensation act to encompass occupational disease claims. This was not a philanthropic gesture, but one rather intended to shield Industry from rapidly spreading silicosis liability in civil actions emerging in the 1950s.
Over time, the failure of the workers’ compensation system to provide adequate medical care to injured workers suffering from occupational illness has given rise to the emergence of several attempted collateral benefit systems by the Federal government. The Black Lung Act-The Federal Coal Mine and Safety Act of 1969 established the Federal Black Lung Trust Fund, which obtained its revenue from the assessment of a percentage tonnage fee imposed on the entire Industry. In October 2000, the Federal government established The Energy Employees Occupational Compensation Program Act that provided a Federal bailout of liability for the monopolistic beryllium industry. The hastily enacted Smallpox Emergency Personnel Protection Act of 2003 (SEPA) shielded pharmaceutical manufacturers from liability.  Following the horrific events of September 11, 2001, the Federal government quickly established The Victims Compensation Fund to compensate the victims and their families through an administrative system.
The largest transfer of economic wealth in the United States from Industry to the private sector, other than in the Attorney General’s thirty-eight State tobacco litigation, emanated from asbestos litigation which had its geneses in workers’ compensation.   The late Irving Selikoff, MD’s pioneering efforts in providing expert testimony, based upon his sentinel studies of asbestos workers in Paterson, NJ, created the trigger mechanism for a massive wave of claims for occupational health care. The program never did adequately nor efficiently or expeditiously provide medical care.
The workers’ compensation system did not provide an adequate remedy because of a constellation of reasons, and subsequently, the wave spread to civil litigation out of desperation for adequate benefits. Asbestos litigation has been named, "The Longest Running Tort” in American history. While the Fairness in Asbestos Resolution Act of 2003, failed to be release from committee, the insurance industry tried to stifle the litigation but the effort failed.  Asbestos litigation expanded into  bankruptcy claims that continue unabated and the epidemic of disease continues. The remaining cases in the Federal court system were transferred to Federal Multi District Litigation (MDL 875) and the majority are finally concluding after twenty years of Panel consolidation. Medical benefits were not a direct component of that system. Unfortunately, asbestos is still not banned in the United States and the legacy of disease continues at historic rates.
The Costs
In a study prepared in 2000 by Dr. Steven Markowitz for a book entitled “Cost of Occupational Injuries  and Illnesses”, it was revealed that the direct medical costs attributed to occupation illness by taxpayers, amount to $51.8 Billion dollars per year for the hospital physicians and pharmaceutical expenses. Overall workers’ compensation is covering 27% percent of the cost. This amounts to 3% of the National Gross National Product. The cost is passed on to: employers, insurance carriers, consumers, injured workers and the taxpayer. Medicare, a target of the cost shifting mechanism employer by Industry, continues its “pay and chase” policy in an effort to seek reimbursement under the Medicare Secondary Payer Act. All the stakeholders and the compensation systems have become increasingly bogged down as cost-shifting continues by Industry. The workers' compensation claims process has become stagnant. 
Reportable Data A Questionable Affair
The quantification of occupational illness data has been very problematic as it is based on sources of questionable reliability. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) based its collection on employer driven safety reporting, ieNCCI), keeps its data and procedures under wraps.
Both the NY Times and Nebraska Appleseed have reported that there exists underreporting of occupational disease conditions in epic proportions. They report that the elements of fear and intimidation directed to injured workers compound the defense attitude of employers and the insurance industry resulting in a massive underreporting of occupationally related medical conditions.
Increased Hurtles for Compensability
There have been attempts over the years to integrate more claims statutorily into the workers’ compensation system to shield employers from civil action and resultant large liability verdicts. This resulted in a flood of occupational exposure claims into the workers’ compensation arena. An effort in the mid-1980’s, following the asbestos litigation explosion, was by Industry to contain costs and restrict the payment of occupational disease claims even further in the workers’ compensation.
The initial effort was to create higher threshold standards and requirements in the area of mental stress claims. That was quickly followed by efforts to limit orthopedic and neurological carpal tunnel claims.  Restrictive language interpreting what is peculiar to employment further limited all occupational disease claims.
Furthermore, scientific evidence proof requirements became increasingly difficult to surmount. Daubert type arguments emerged by the defense in the nations’ workers’ compensation forums where simplicity of a remedial and efficient benefit delivery program had existed in the past. Where a biological marker was not present, as was in asbestos exposure claims, the establishment of causal relationship was universally challenged.
Pre-existing and co-existing factors soon became other hurtles for injured workers and their families.  Medical histories of orthopedic difficulties such as back conditions soon complicated repetitive motion trauma litigation. Co-existing and pre-existing smoking habits, family genetics and obesity were yet another obstacle to recovery.
Societal Habits Changed
Life and the way we look at work have changed dramatically with the onset of technology. Off-premises work is becoming more and more common with the advent of Internet access and economic globalization. Defining the barriers between work and pleasure has grown to be exceedingly difficult.
People are working harder and longer. More chronic conditions are prevalent in older workers. Disease increases with age and results in more total disability claims.
Occupational Medical Costs
The compensability of occupational claims is much more difficult to sustain in court. In recent studies over 99.9% of occupational deaths and 93.8% of the medical costs of occupational disease were held to be non-compensable. Over 50% of the lifetime medical costs are incurred during the last year of one’s life.
The Legacy of The Libby Montana Gold Rush
In 1881 gold miners discovered vermiculite, a form of asbestos in Libby, Montana. In 1920 The Zonolite Company was established and began to commercially mine vermiculite. W.R. Grace bought the mining operations in 1963. In 1990 the mine was closed and production ended.
For decades W.R. Grace belched over 5,000 pounds of asbestos into the air in and around Libby on a daily basis. The residents who worked at the plant and their families and household contacts were exposed to asbestos fiber.  Mineworkers brought home the asbestos on their clothing. The unknowing inhabitants and their families  used the asbestos to fill their gardens, their driveways, the high school track, the little league field and in their attics for insulation.
The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) visited Libby in 1999 and investigated the incidence of disease and the contamination of the site. The EPA declared Libby a Superfund site in October 2002 and a physical clean-up began of the geographical area. The question of who would pay for the medical care of Libby remained an unknown.
A Manager’s Amendment
Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), Chair of the Senate Finance Committee, utilizing a mechanism known as “A Manager’s Amendment,” at the last moment, modified the Senate’s version of the Health Care Reform Bill. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed the Senate, ultimate cleared the House and was signed into law by President Obama on March 23, 2010. Section 10323, Medicare Coverage for Individuals Exposed to Environmental Health Hazards, 2009 Cong US HR 3590, 111th Congress, 1st Session (December 31, 2009).
Senator Bacus said,  “This provision is important because it will provide vital medical services to American who—through no fault of their own—have suffered horrible effects from their exposure to deadly poisons. It will provide vital medical services we owe these Americans under our commitment in the Superfund Act.”  The amendment initially provides for screening and medical care to residents of the Libby Montana asbestos contaminated site that was owned and operated by W.R. Grace. It essentially provides for universal health care.
“Libby Care” Is The New Occupational Medical Care Model Legislation
The Libby site qualified for the medical program because the hazardous asbestos contaminated site in Libby was deemed to be “a public health emergency” on June 17, 2009 as defined by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA). While there are 1700 designated Superfund sites, Libby is the first site in the history of the program that has been designated as “a public health emergency.” The program may be expanded in adopted to other communities at the discretion of the Secretary of of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 
The plan authorizes a grant for initial medical screening purposes. The screening would determine if a medical condition is present that is attributable to the environmental exposure. It allows those individuals with a diagnosed medical condition due to the environmental exposure at the site to get Medicare services. The Secretary of the Department of HHS may establish additional pilot programs to provide additional medical care appropriate for the residents of contaminated communities so designated. The delivery of Medicare medical benefits will be directed to those “who have suffered horrible effects from their exposure to deadly poisons.”
The purpose of the legislation is  “…. to furnish such comprehensive, coordinated and cost-effective care to individuals…..” p2224 l3-1. It mandates the furnishing of “Flexible Benefits and Services,” for items, benefits or services NOT covered or authorized by the Act. It further authorizes the institution of “Innovative Reimbursement Methodologies,” for reimbursement subject to offsets for individuals “eligible to receive public or private plan benefits or legal agreement.” p2226 ll8-11. The Secretary of HHS will maintain “waiver authority.”
Charting A New Course
After a century of struggle, the United States now embarks upon a new course for occupational medical care. The law charts a new path for the delivery of  occupational disease medical benefits on a timely basis. It will permit researchers an avenue for the collection of epidemiological data so that the workplace can be made safer. All will benefit. The innovative legislation provides for a long awaited and much needed initiative to provide an efficient, responsive and coordinated treatment plan and preventive health program that hopefully will expand and will vastly improve occupational health care.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Asbestos Victims in Libby Settle Case for $43 Million

The asbestos victims in Libby, Montana, have  settled their case against the State of Montana for $43 Million. The case alleged that Montana had failed to take proper action to curb the asbestos production at the WR Grace vermiculite plant.

Asbestos is a known carcinogen causally related to asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. WR Grace manufactured asbestos containing vermiculite as an insulation product. The production process contributed to the toxic contamination of the geographical area and both the workers and the residents developed asbestos related illness on a massive scale. The US Environmental Protection Agency designated Libby, MT, as a Superfund Site for cleanup and remediation.

Additionally, the Obama health care reform legislation, extended universal medical care  (Libby Care) through Medicare to all residents of Libby who were exposed to fiber. This innovated medical insurance program can be extended to other areas designated as a national health emergency areas. Eventually all occupational disease claims in workers' compensation could be encompassed by the program.

The costs for medical benefits extended to the residents of Libby will be reimbursed through the Medical Secondary Acts as directed by The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. This concept is already in place throughout the US. 

For over 4 decades the Law Offices of Jon L. Gelman  1.973.696.7900 have been representing injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Health Reform Coverage for Asbestos Victims Expands

The Federal health reform medical coverage for asbestos victims is expanding in Libby Montana. The announcement was made by Senator Baucus who sponsored the innovated unified Federal healthcare legislation that is a national pilot program for the treatment of occupational illness and diseases.. 

"Libby Care" is an innovated plan under which the Federal government provides medical care to those who were exposed to asbestos fiber in the geographical area of the Libby asbestos mines. The mines were operated by WR Grace. The program is a pilot plan providing for free coverage to asbestos victims and is administered by Medicare. The pilot program may expand the Federal government's future role  in providing  medical coverage for all occupational exposure claims and thus avoid the litigious and burdened workers' compensation medical treatment system.

Montana's senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus today announced additional asbestos-related health services to be included under the health care coverage he secured for Lincoln County asbestos victims in the Affordable Care Act.

"The people of Libby and Lincoln County suffered a horrendous injustice in the name of greed, and we have a responsibility to help them heal however we can. We secured a Public Health Emergency Declaration in Libby to make sure these folks had access to all the tools they needed. Providing Libby victims with the consistent, reliable, health care they are entitled to under the law is the least we can do to help right this outrageous wrong," Baucus said.

Dr. Brad Black, Medical Director of the Center for Asbestos Related Disease in Libby said, "CARD, our patients, and the Libby community greatly appreciates Senator Baucus' work to secure legislation to provide long-term asbestos health benefits and screening. Medicare benefits, the Medicare Pilot Program for Asbestos Related Disease and ongoing asbestos screening are critical services for the affected population of today and tomorrow."

CARD is a community based non-profit organization established in 2000 that is committed to providing asbestos screening and healthcare related to the Libby asbestos exposure.

"While some in Congress are trying to end Medicare as we know it for Montanans, we strengthened it and improved access to better health care for folks in places like Libby," said U.S. Senator Jon Tester. "Today the people of Libby have better access to the health care services they need and deserve. It's a powerful investment in Montana's people."

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said today the agency would begin covering the additional benefits July 1, 2011 under a permanent pilot program Baucus included in the Affordable Care Act to ensure Libby victims received the full range of services needed to treat asbestos diseases. Benefits cover services not already included under Medicare coverage Libby asbestos victims now receive under the law, including:

  • Special home care services;
  • Special medical equipment;
  • Help with travel to get care;
  • Special counseling, for example, help quitting smoking;
  • Nutritional supplements; and
  • Prescription drugs not covered by Medicare drug plans (Participants in the Pilot Program must be in a Medicare drug plan to receive this benefit.)
According to CMS, individuals participating in the Pilot Program will also be able to work with a nurse case manager to coordinate their health benefits and receive individualized care planning.

Today's news is the third step in Baucus' provisions to secure health care coverage for Libby under the Affordable care Act. In Spring 2010, as part of Baucus' provisions, victims of asbestos exposure in Lincoln County began getting care under Medicare. In March of 2011, Baucus announced a grant program to help Lincoln County health care providers screen for asbestos-related diseases. Before the new program announced today, Libby asbestos victims relied on temporary and uncertain grants programs to receive the additional care they needed.

Individuals can call 1-888-469-9464 to enroll in the pilot by phone or visit the beginning June 14.

Earlier this year Baucus was announced as the 2011 Tribute of Hope Award recipient by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) for his tireless efforts fighting on behalf of residents of Libby, Lincoln County and Asbestos victims everywhere. In March, the Senate unanimously passed Baucus' resolution to designate the first week of April 2011 as "Asbestos Awareness Week," and call attention to Libby and other victims of asbestos-related disease.

Additional background on Baucus' longstanding efforts to secure declaration of a Public Health Emergency in Libby:

Baucus has been a long-time champion of asbestos awareness in his efforts to declare the mining tragedy in Lincoln County a public health emergency and make sure folks there have access to the clean-up tools and health care they need.

Since news reports first linked widespread deaths and illness to exposure to deadly asbestos fibers at the defunct W.R Grace and Co. mine, Baucus has visited Libby more than 20 times, secured millions for healthcare and cleanup, brought numerous White House cabinet secretaries to the town, helped save the CARD clinic, and has dogged the EPA to keep cleanup efforts moving forward.

The mine near Libby, Montana, was the source of over 70 percent of all vermiculite sold in the U.S. from 1919 to 1990. There was also a deposit of asbestos at that mine, so the vermiculite from Libby was contaminated with asbestos. Vermiculite from Libby was used in the majority of vermiculite insulation in the U.S. and was often sold under the brand name Zonolite.

As far back as 1999, Baucus wrote a letter to then Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala requesting immediate medical help and assistance to the area. He further lambasted the EPA's decision to not declare a Public Health Emergency, calling it an "outrage." 

In 2008, Baucus released a report detailing a 2002 attempt by the EPA to declare a Public Health Emergency in Libby that was thwarted by the previous Administration's Office of Management and Budget. And on June 17, 2009, due in large part to Baucus' efforts, the EPA declared its first ever public health emergency in Libby, Montana.

After securing the declaration, Baucus fought hard, as a key author of the Affordable Care Act, to make sure the law included a mechanism for residents of Libby and Lincoln County to access the health care they were entitled to as victims of a public health emergency. As a result, Libby residents began receiving coverage under Medicare in Spring 2010.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

W.G. Grace to Settle Asbestos Claims for $3 Billion

W.R. Grace and Co. has announced that it will fund a trust for resolving all current and future asbestos-related personal-injury claims. The company entered bankruptcy 7 years ago with 135,000 asbestos claims pending. Grace had set aside $1.7 Billion in 2004 to pay its asbestos liabilities and will probably finance another $1.5 Billion to provide additional contribution to the financial package for asbestos claim resolution.

In March 2008 Grace agreed to reimburse the U.S. Superfund program for the cleanup costs associated with its Libby, Montana, asbestos facility

Saturday, October 4, 2008

The Politics of Asbestos – US Government Failed the People Declares Senator Baucus

At a recent hearing of the US Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Senator Max Baucus presented a report revealing that the Federal government failed to take the appropriate action to declare Libby, Montana a public health emergency in 2002. The disregard of the federal government led to a lack of funding and manpower in cleaning up the asbestos contamination according to the Senator.

“EPA was going to let people know, but they were changed from their direction. A Public Health Emergency definitely would have helped--- it would have provided media and public attention. Without a Public Health Emergency, asbestos has not become a public health issue. That’s the politics of asbestos."
Libby Montana was the former vermiculite mine site of W.R.Grace & Company. Vermiculite is a form of asbestos, a known carcinogen. Grace recently agreed to globally settle all of its asbestos claims for $3 Billion.

The exposure to asbestos has been long linked to several disease including, asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. Asbestos exposure occurs when the toxic particles are ingested or inhaled into the body. When asbestos articles attach themselves to the lining of the lung, pleural mesothelioma, a fatal disease, results. The fibers may also attach themselves to the mesothelioma linings surrounding the heart and abdomen.

Libby Montana was declared a Federal Superfund site in 1999. Following that declaration, the Federal government has poured millions of dollars into cleaning up the asbestos-contaminated site. The failure to declare the site a public health emergency limited the Federal government’s role in providing even more extensive cleanup operations and healthcare to those residents who innocently suffered the avoidable exposure to asbestos.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

US Department of Labor notifies former New Jersey nuclear weapons employees of energy workers’ compensation program

The U.S. Department of Labor is notifying former workers of 26 New Jersey facilities about benefits that may be available to them under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act administered by the department's Office of Workers' Compensation's Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation. Survivors of qualified workers also may be entitled to benefits.

Former employees of the following sites may be eligible for EEOICPA compensation and medical benefits if they worked at the facility during a period of covered employment: International Nickel Co. Bayonne Laboratories in Bayonne, Westinghouse Electric Corp. and Bloomfield Tool Co. in Bloomfield, U.S. Pipe and Foundry in Burlington, Aluminum Company of America in Garwood, National Beryllia in Haskell, Kellex/Pierpont in Jersey City, Chemical Construction Co. and Standard Oil Development Co. of New Jersey in Linden, Middlesex Municipal Landfill, Middlesex Sampling Plant and United Lead Co. in Middlesex, Bell Telephone Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Brunswick Laboratory in New Brunswick, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory in Princeton, Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken, Maywood Chemical Works in Maywood, American Peddinghaus Corp. in Moonachle, Baker and Williams Co. and Wykoff Steel Co. in Newark, Bowen Laboratory in North Branch, J.T. Baker Chemical Co. in Phillipsburg, Callite Tungsten Co. in Union City, Tube Reducing Co. in Wallington, Rare Earths/W. R. Grace in Wayne and Vitro Corp. of American in West Orange.

The department urges all potential eligible former workers and their survivors to contact its New York Resource Center at 800-941-3943 or visit DEEOIC's website at for more information.

On July 31, 2001, the Department of Labor began administering Part B of the EEOICPA. Part B covers current and former workers diagnosed with cancer, beryllium disease or silicosis caused by exposure to radiation, beryllium or silica while working directly for the U.S. Department of Energy, that department's contractors or subcontractors, a designated Atomic Weapons Employer or a beryllium vendor. Individuals or their survivors found eligible under Part B may receive a lump sum compensation payment of $150,000 and medical expenses for their covered conditions. Part E, created by an amendment to the EEOICPA on Oct. 28, 2004, and administered by the Labor Department, provides federal compensation and medical benefits to DOE contractors and subcontractors who worked at covered facilities during a covered time period and sustained an illness as a result of exposure to toxic substances.

In support of the Labor Department's implementation of the EEOICPA, DOE maintains a list of covered facilities under the EEOICPA, which is periodically updated and published in the Federal Register. DOE also maintains a searchable covered facility database, which contains additional information pertaining to each of the facilities, including years of covered activity and an overview of the type of work performed. The database can be accessed online at

It is the Department of Labor's goal to disseminate information concerning EEOICPA benefits to potentially eligible claimants across the country. To aid in this effort, the department maintains 11 resource centers nationwide to provide in-person and telephone-based assistance to individuals regardless of where they live. To date, the department has delivered more than $10 million in EEOICPA compensation and medical benefits to 114 eligible claimants living in New Jersey and more than $7.7 billion nationwide.

More articles about the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation  Act

Jan 13, 2012
... 17 facilities associated with the Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act about compensation and medical benefits potentially available to them under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program ...
Feb 28, 2012
The recently amended Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Act is explained in detail and forms are furnished and discussed.The recent Supreme Court decisions concerning the high judicial threshold for ...
Feb 12, 2011
The recently amended Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Act is explained in detail and forms are furnished and discussed. The new administration and management of claims arising from insolvent ...
Jul 02, 2009
... of employees for the Standard Oil Development Company in Linden, New Jersey, as an addition to the Special Exposure Cohort (SEC) under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Good Medicine for an Ailing Compensation System

An historic shift in the delivery of medical care for those injured by occupational exposures has been signaled by the US Senate. Following decades of debate, the proposed emerging health care legislation, amended at the last minute by the Majority Leader's manager amendments, shifts Libby, Montana's asbestos disease claims to Medicare as a primary payor.

The stage was set last June 17th, when the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared Libby, Montana, a Public Health  Emergency, because of asbestos present at the site. The geographical location was the site of a W.R. Grace vermiculite mine.

The legislative provision was "buried" deep in the legislation at the last moment, reported Robert Pear of the NY Times. The amendment was made Senator Max Baucus of Montana, who lead the Senate legislative committee crafting the legislation. The convoluted political bartering over the last few days reflects a sentinel change in how injured workers may be receiving medical care in the years ahead. It is anticipated that major changes will be offered over the years ahead to modify and expand the coverage.

Occupational diseases have always been problematic to the State workers' compensation systems. They have been subject to serious and costly proof issues. They were "tag along" claims for a compensation system that initially was enacted in 1911 to cover only traumatic claims. The proposed legislation is a first major step to move occupationally induced illnesses into a universal health medical care system and will provide a pilot project for addressing the long awaited need to furnish medical care without serious and costly delays.

By allowing Medicare to become the primary payor and furnish medical care, those without a collateral safety net of insurance will be able to obtain medical care effectively and expeditiously. While cost shifting from workers' compensation to Medicare has been an historically systemic problem in the compensation arena, this legislation maybe a first major step to legitimatize the process. The legislation may allow for great accountability and expansion of the Medicare Secondary Payment Act (MSP) to end cost shifting that has become epidemic in proportion. It is good medicine for an ailing workers' compensation system.

Click here to read more about workers' compensation and universal health care.

Friday, March 8, 2019


U.S. Senators Jon Tester and Steve Daines championed legislation to designate April 1-7, 2019 "National Asbestos Awareness Week" as part of their ongoing efforts to combat the dangers of asbestos exposure.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Mississippi courts still sympathetic to lung litigation in wake of scandal

Today's post was shared by Legal Newsline and comes from




PORT GIBSON and LAUREL, Miss. (Legal Newsline) – Last decade’s flood of mass silicosis suits into Mississippi courts dried up in the heat of scandal, but new silicosis suits are steadily streaming into the same sympathetic courts.

The new suits, like thousands that federal judge Janis Jack reviewed in 2005, depend on little evidence beyond X-ray reports of a well paid expert.

In a dramatic turn of events, the expert behind the new suits once joined Jack in ripping the experts behind the old suits.

Pulmonologist Steven Haber of Houston, who now testifies at $450 an hour for depositions and $5,000 a day for trials, once echoed Jack’s opinion that doctors manufactured reports for the lawyers who paid them.

Those doctors lost reputations and licenses, and avoided prosecution by invoking Fifth Amendment privilege against self incrimination.

Haber has found success employed as an expert for attorneys Allen Smith of Ridgeland, and Timothy Porter, Patrick Malouf and John Givens of Jackson, who run a constant cycle of trials around the state.

At a wrongful death trial in September in Port Gibson (Claiborne County), defense attorney Walter Johnson of Watkins & Eager in Jackson confronted Haber with an affidavit he had produced for purposes of the WR Grace bankruptcy. In it, Haber was critical of B-readers, or readers of X-rays.

Haber testified that he never met the deceased claimant Lawrence Armstrong and that the only information he had reviewed...

[Click here to see the rest of this post]

Friday, March 4, 2011

Asbestos Awareness Conference To Focus on Public Health, Environment and The Economy

The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), the largest U.S. organization serving as the voice of asbestos victims, presents its 7th Annual Asbestos Awareness Conference, Asbestos: Impact on Public Heath, Environment, and the Economy. The event will be held April 1 - 3, 2011, at the Atlanta Marriott Buckhead Hotel & Conference Center. This conference is made possible with the support of the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute. Presentations will include occupational and non-occupational exposure issues, detection and treatment advances, environmental and economic impact, national and global policy. 

The international conference brings together experts from around the globe to collaborate and enhance efforts to completely ban asbestos. Attendees will hear about the most advanced medical, occupational and environmental information to prevent home, school and work asbestos exposure; as well as disease prevention and treatment. 

The conference will also quantify the economic impact of asbestos exposure to individuals, business and the government. Speakers will represent the United States, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, and Germany. The ADAO international conference is made possible with the support and collaborative efforts of the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute in Detroit. Registration includes continental breakfast and lunch. 

Linda Reinstein, President/CEO and Co-Founder of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization, knows first hand the pain that can result from asbestos exposure after loosing her husband in 2006 to mesothelioma, a leading asbestos caused cancer. “ADAO is dedicated to the three core principles – education, advocacy, and community – as reaffirmed by this year’s powerful conference,” stated Reinstein. “This year’s event brings together some of the world’s most important voices, including leading professionals from different fields who play a pivotal role in globally uniting efforts to end asbestos disease. We welcome them and thank our many generous sponsors who are helping to make this event possible. There is indeed power in knowledge.” 

According to Michael Harbut M.D., MPH, FCCP, of the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, “The ADAO conference is one of the best educational and awareness opportunities for physicians, public health representatives, caregivers and other advocates. We all have an opportunity to make an impact on preventing asbestos-related diseases. Whether you’re a medical professional or someone who deeply cares about the health of your loved ones, this conference offers an important network for everyone.” 

The weekend will provide information and inspiration for those impacted by asbestos-related disease as well as others who advocate for safe environments. 

The conference also will recognize US Senator Max Baucus, and others,  those who have demonstrated exceptional service to enhance asbestos awareness. The Unity and Remembrance Brunch on April 3 will honor and remember loved ones lost to asbestos exposure, as well as support others impacted by asbestos-related diseases.

Friday, April 19, 2013

US EPA Reports: Better Planning, Execution and Communication Could Have Reduced the Delays in Completing a Toxicity Assessment of the Libby, Montana, Superfund Site

The US EPA could have done better in handling the asbestos exposure site in Libby Montana according to a report issued yesterday by the US EPA's Inspector General. 

"U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) action officials did not complete  planned corrective actions under its Libby Action Plan in a timely manner. This occurred because the scope of the work was larger than originally thought; there was no established charter; and there were contracting delays, competing priorities, unanticipated work, and poor communication with stakeholders. Consequently, the Agency has twice revised its estimates for completing actions in response to our December 2006 report. 

"The toxicity assessment is one of two components (an exposure assessment 
being the other) that makes up the health risk assessment for determining 
cleanup levels in Libby. In December 2011, EPA informed us that the health 
risk assessment would be substantially delayed. As a result, the Agency’s final 
determinations that the completed and ongoing cleanup actions are sufficient to 
address the health risks from site contamination have been delayed from 2 to 6 
years, depending on the studies being performed. This is a significant concern, 
considering that the EPA Administrator declared a public-health emergency at 
the Libby site in 2009 and the Agency has spent over $400 million on cleanup. 
Communications about delays in completing Libby Action Plan items, and the 
reasons for those delays, were not always timely or clearly communicated to 
stakeholders; and EPA officials failed to update the Agency’s follow-up system 
or notify the Office of Inspector General (OIG) about known delays until 
planned corrective actions under the Libby Action Plan could not be met.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

NIOSH Correction: Asbestos is A Know Carcinogen

NIOSH has corrected it originally released report last month and has now inserted the text:

"NIOSH has determined that exposure to asbestos fibers causes cancer and asbestosis in humans and recommends that exposures be reduced to the lowest feasible concentration."

For more about this correction see The Pump Handle article.

Related articles

Monday, July 11, 2011

Better Control Over Asbestos Contaminated Sites Required

Senator Max Baucus (MT)

The recent discovery of the spread of asbestos contamination in Libby MT, which had been declared a Public Health Emergency, is shocking. Asbestos, a known carcinogen, associated with mesothelioma, is reportedly still lingering throughout the community. 

Montana's senior U.S. Senator Max Baucus vowed to find answers regarding reports today of asbestos-contaminated bark and wood chips being sold in Libby, MT and beyond. 

"We've made tremendous strides in the effort to help Libby heal with health care and environmental cleanup. But trust is essential to Libby's ability to heal psychologically and economically. Now it appears EPA's actions may have put that trust in jeopardy, so you can bet I'll be holding EPA's feet to the fire to find out exactly what they knew, when they knew it, and whether action is needed to ensure the safety of folks in Libby and across the country who were exposed to this bark," Baucus said. "The people of Libby have already been poisoned in the name of greed and I won't allow them to be victimized again because of negligence. We need to work together to make sure safety information is complete and transparent so the community can move forward and create jobs with faith in the agencies and processes that are supposed to protect them."

Since news reports first linked widespread deaths and illness to exposure to deadly asbestos fibers at the defunct W.R Grace and Co. mine, Baucus has visited Libby more than 20 times, secured millions for healthcare and cleanup, brought numerous White House cabinet secretaries to the town, helped save the CARD clinic, and has dogged the EPA to keep cleanup efforts moving forward. 

As far back as 1999, Baucus wrote a letter to then Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala requesting immediate medical help and assistance to the area. He further lambasted the EPA's decision to not declare a Public Health Emergency, calling it an "outrage." 

In 2008, Baucus released a report detailing a 2002 attempt by the EPA to declare a Public Health Emergency in Libby that was thwarted by the previous Administration's Office of Management and Budget. And on June 17, 2009, due in large part to Baucus' efforts, the EPA declared its first ever public health emergency in Libby, Montana. 

Earlier this year Baucus was announced as the 2011 Tribute of Hope Award recipient by the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) for his tireless efforts fighting on behalf of residents of Libby, Lincoln County and Asbestos victims everywhere. In March, the Senate unanimously passed Baucus' resolution to designate the first week of April 2011 as "Asbestos Awareness Week," and call attention to Libby and other victims of asbestos-related disease.

The continued spread of this contamination is yet another reason why the US must finally ban asbestos entirely.