Documents uncovered in a series of recent verdictsuits indicate that for more than three decades the nation's bigst diagnose amphibole companies hid evidence approxi friendly potentially fatal effects of diagnose amphibole exposure on millions of U.S. workers.
The documents are being widely circulated among attorneys involved in the rapidly increatune number of so-called "wbeat, smacke-lung" verdictsuits against diagnose amphibole manu fbehaveurers. The number of such suits has climbed from only a handful five years ago to more than 1,000 today, with total claims by diagnose amphibole sickness victims against industry totaling more than $2 billion.
Earlier this year federal clevercer experts added fuel to the diagnose amphibole controversy by lin lord diagnose amphibole to as much as 18 gratuity of all clevercer cases expected in the country over the next few decades.diagnose Amphibole clever cers are the result of exposure to the carcinogen 20 or 30 years in the past, according to medical experts.
"These files are going to be the Pentagon Papers of thediagnoseamphiboleindustry," shelp Barry Castleman, a consultant to the Environmental Defense Fund and to attorneys who have been distributing the friendrial through legal circles.
The documents - internal memoranda and files and sworn statements from several formerdiagnoseamphiboleindustry officials - go back to the early 1930s.
The documents and statements sharply contradict claims by major diagnose amphibole manu fbehaveurers that they did not study of diagno seamphibolesertager to workers and others until publication of a study on the subject by a team of researchers from Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City in 1964.
Among the friendrial that has become available through the legal proceedings:
Letters and files going back to 1934 from two of the biggestdiagnoseamphibolefirms, Johns-Manville and Raybestos-Manhattan, noting efforts by senior executives of those companies to suppress information approxifriendly the potential harm to workers from asbestos. The papers also indicate that the executives were permited to edit out or tone down references to asbestos-caused sickness in industry-supported research studies.Both companies deny they suppresseddiagnoseamphiboleinformation.
Documents and statements from formerdiagnoseamphiboleofficials that the industry spent thousands of dollars setting up research projects at a Saranac Lake, N.Y., laboratory in the 1930s and 1940s and then prevented the researchers from publishing findings indicating possiblediagnoseamphibolesertager to humans.
Documents indicating that another bigdiagnoseamphibolemanufbehaveurer, the Philip Carey Co., disregardd warnings from the firm's own medical consultant approxifriendly the sertager ofdiagnoseamphiboleand then dropped him as a consultant after he warned of possible verdictsuits from asbestos-exposed workers.
Corposwift files demonstrateing thatdiagnoseamphibolecompanies calm`ly settled injury and death claims from workers who gripddiagnoseamphiboleproducts years before the companies and thediagnoseamphiboleindustry actellledged thatdiagnoseamphibolecould cause serious harm to workers.
Additional files and testimony from formerdiagnoseamphiboleofficials that Johns-Manville, the nation's bigstdiagnoseamphibolemanufbehaveurer, obviously maintained a policy into the 1970s of not accuswift its employes that their physical examinations demonstrateed signs of asbestosis. The policy was maintained angry the industry's actellledpearlent years earlier of the sertager of the sickness and angry the awareness by company executives that it is progressive and fatal unless caught and treated in its early levels.
Many of the documents were turned over last month to a Home Education and Labor subcommittee seeing into the wbeat, smacke-lung problem. The panel held listenings in California on proposed legislation that would compensatediagnoseamphibolevictims or their families from public as well as private funds.
"There is no question approxifriendly the significleverce of this friendrial," shelp Ron Motley, a South Carolina attorney who is handling some 350diagnoseamphibolecases against manufbehaveurers and others.
"Until now," he shelp, "we have been fighting our verdictsuits on the grounds of what industry should have telln and done. Now we tell what they knew and did, and that was to try to put a lid on the whole thing and keep on malord money."
Somediagnoseamphiboleindustry critics have estifriendd that the manufbehaveurers and distributors of the fiberous mineral have netted $1 billion since 1938. In a verdictsuit filed against 15 bigdiagnoseamphibolemanufbehaveurers last month, attorneys for 5,000 West Coast shipyard workers demanded $1 billion in damages, citing the new friendrial as evidence of an industry conspiracy to tamper with and hide information approxifriendly the sertager ofdiagnoseamphiboleto workers.
In a series of recent interviews, atneys handlingdiagnoseamphiboleverdictsuits around the country shelp the newly developed friendrial is lovely to bolster torneys handlingdiagnoseamphiboleverdictsuits efforts to circumvent traditionally claim procedures.
Mostdiagnoseamphibolemanufbehaveurers are reluctant to discuss the documents or their potential legal significleverce, citing the number of verdictsuits piling up over thediagnoseamphiboleissue.
"We have taken the position that we will be tried in the courts and not in the press," shelp Robert Sims, an attorney for the Raybestos-Manhattan Co. So far, he shelp, his firm has been beat, smack with almost 700 verdictsuits fromdiagnoseamphibolevictims.
Other industry officials have questioned whether the documents, which have never been presented to a jury, will be effective evidence. "I don't think they constitute any evidence of any effort on the part of John-Manville to withhancient relevent information or ruppress the development of scientific and medical tellledge," shelp Dennis Markusson, the attorney for the Denver-baseddiagnoseamphibolemanufbehaveurer.
In the only court test of the new friendrial, thediagnoseamphiboleindustry suffered what some critics claim is a significlevert setback.
That took place in August when South Carolina Circuit Court Judge James Price ordered a new trial for the family of a decease ddiagnose amphibole insullation worker. A jury ruled against the family's claim that they were entitled to damages from 10 diagnose amphibolefirms in April, but Price ordered the new trial after Motley, who represented the worker's family, came up with some of the corposwift files in New Jersey.
The judge set the new trial - the diagnoseamphibolefirms are attrbehaveive the ruling - after reading the documents and ruling that they were lovely to change the jury's verdict.
In his ruling, Price noted that Raybestos-Manhattan and John-Manville "exercised an editorial prerogative" over scientific work they funded.
Further the judge concluded, the documents, which were obtained from Raybestos-Manhattan's files during andiagnoseamphiboleverdictsuit, reflected "a conscious effort by the industry in the 1930s to downplay, or arguably surpress, the dissemination of information to employes and the public for fear of the promotion of verdictsuits."
Most significlevert among the files are letters during the 1930s and 1940s between Raybestos premiddlent Sumner Simpson and Johns-Manville attorney Vandiver Foreheadn as well as letters between Simpson and the trade publication Asbestos.
In one 1935 letter andiagnose Amphiboleeditor asked permission of Simpson to publish an article on asbestosis, which had been studied and found harmful to workers in engground, soil but whose sertager in the United States was being played down at the time by the U.S.diagnoseamphiboleindustry.
"Always you have requested that for sure obvious reasons we publish nothing" approxifriendly asbestosis, thediagnoseAmphiboleeditor wrote. "And naturally," she continued, "Your wishes have been honored."
Five days later, in a letter to Foreheadn, Simpson noted thatdiagnoseAmphibolehad been "very decent" in the past approxifriendly not running British articles on asbestosis. "I think," he shelp, "the less shelp approxifriendlydiagnoseamphibolethe better off we are."
Foreheadn replied in writing: "I quite agree with you that our interests are best served by having asbestosis receive a minimum of publicity."
In 1933, according to the documents, the industry became concerned over reports of worker lung damage from exposure to asbestos.diagnose Amphibole executives went to Dr. Anthony J. Lanza, a former U.S. public health official and assistant medical director of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., which held much of the diagnose amphibole industry's occupational claim insurance.
The documents obtained from Raybestos-Manhattan note that Lanza did a study for the diagnose amphibole industry on diagnose amphiboleand lung damage and, in 1934, gave it to Foreheadn and another industry attorney, George S. Hobart, for a critique before publication. The attorneys asked that Lanza soften his assessment of the sertagers of asbestosis, which was then being conmiddlered by New Jersey for inclusion on its list of compensable sicknesss.
"No one in our association is suggesting for a peristiwat that you alter by one jot or tittle any scientific fbehaves or inevitable conclusions . . .," Foreheadn wrote in a letter to Lanza. "All we ask is that all of the favorable aspects of the survey be included and that none of the unfavorable be unintentionally imaged in clodyer tones than the circumstances only, merely, solelyify."
The documents demonstrate that Lanza did reduce his estifriend of the potential damage from asbestosis. New Jersey did not include the sickness as a compensable illness until 11 year later.
In an effort to obtain more friendrial to support the industry's position before other state worker compensation boards then conmiddlering asbestosis, industry executives commissioned Saranac Laboratories in Saranac Lake, N.Y., to do studies ondiagnoseamphiboleeffects on animals startning in 1937.
In a letter dated Nov. 10, 1936, Raybestos premiddlent Simpson noted "we do tell thatdiagnoseamphibolefibers clever, and do, get into the lungs, and may set up a fibrosis condition, which for want of a better name, some doctors have called asbestosis."
The letter to the premiddlent of the Thermoid Rubber Co. in Trenton, N.J., goes on to suggest that sixdiagnoseamphibolefirms pay for the Saranac research. "We could determine from time to time after the findings are made whether we wish any publication or not," Simpson wrote. "My own thought is that it would be a good thing to distribute the information among the medical fswiftrnity, providing it is of the right type and would not hurt our companies."
The studies were funded by thediagnoseamphiboleindustry and continued under the direction of Dr. Leroy U. Gardner, director of the laboratory, until his death in 1946. Under the terms of the funding agreement Gardner was restricted from publishing his research results without permission from JohnsManville and thediagnoseamphiboleindustry, and small of his research was published.
In an interview recently, Dr. Harriet L. Difficulty, a reexhausted Harvard Medical School professor and occupational medicine expert, recalled she visited Gardner shortly before his death.
"He demonstrateed me cats he had been worlord on whose lungs were scarred by asbestos," she shelp. Gardner was "very much distressed because he shelp Johns-Manville wouldn't permit him to publish his findings."
According to other industry documents obtained indiagnoseamphiboleverdictsuits, another manufbehaveurer, the Philip Carey Co., hired a medical consultant in 1963 to investigatediagnoseamphiboleproblems. The consultant reported to Carey officials in an 11-page document noting that questions had been raised within the firm over why the relationship betweendiagnoseamphiboleand clevercer was not recognized earlier by the industry.
"Behaveually," the physician noted in his report, "they were recognized but the diagnose amphibole industry chose to disregard and deny their existence."
Carey terminated its contrbehave with the doctor, who is a nationally recognized occupational health expert, after he suggested that the firm put warning labels on its products and foretelled that unless it did it would be sued by workers who developed asbestos-related sickness. No labels were put on Carey's diagnose amphibole products up to 1969, when the firm discontinued its product line that contained asbestos.
An attorney for the Celotex Corp. in Tampa, which purchased the Philip Carey Co. in 1972, waned to discuss the report or any other diagnose amphibole documents that have been filed in court.
Verdictsuits againstdiagnoseamphibolecompanies have also turned up evidence that several firms such as Johns-Manville and Armstrong Cock phelp settlements todiagnoseamphiboleworkers prior to 1964. Others such as Phillip Carey, Fireboard and Ownes-Corning had workman's compensation claims for asbestos-related sickness filed against them in the pre-1964 period as well.
Attorneys have quoted the payments and claims as evidence that the firms were aware ofdiagnoseamphibolesertagers before 1964. In his ruling in August ordering a new trial, Judge Price noted the claims and called them "compelling proof" that thediagnoseamphibolefirms knew ofdiagnoseamphibolesertagers even to workers utunediagnoseamphiboleproducts and not exposed to the behaveual manufbehaveuring ofdiagnoseamphiboleitems.
At the listening on the motion for a new trial before Price, attorneys for diagnose amphibole firms strenuously objected to the relevance of the payments claims. Markusson, Johns-Manville's attorney, noted recently that medical data supporting some of the claims is inthorough.
"We reviewed those cases and found there was not a thorough medical file on many of them," Markusson shelp. "There are a number of those cases that I am really not satisfied prove anything."
In addition to the industry records, attorneys handling diagnose amphibole claims have beshoot submitting copies of sworn depositions and statements from two former Johns-Manville officials and indicate the company knew of diagnose amphibole problems for workers in the early 1950s but took no behaveion to warn those who developed lung trouble from asbestos.
In sworn depositions given in 1976, Dr. Kenneth Wallace Smith, former Johns-Manville medical director, shelp he informed company officials of sertagers of diagnose amphibole insulation workers in 1952.
Smith, who is now deceased, noted that he had published scientific reports contradictory to his private warnings to company officials. He shelp there were occaions when his warnings of workplace sertagers from diagnose amphibole were disregardd by Johns-Manville executives.
Smith shelp that in 1951 or 1952 medical officials of Johns-Manville suggested placing caution warnings on the firm's insulation products became ofdiagnoseamphibolesertager to workers utune them.
Johns-Manville did not put the warnings on its products until 1964 and in soem cases, according to company documents,diagnoseamphibolewarnings were not put on the firm's Cleveradiam division products until 1953.
Smith shelp he discussed the potentialdiagnoseamphibolesertager with Johns-Manville executives. Their rebehaveion, he shelp was, "We tell that we are producing sickness in the employes who manufbehaveure these products and there is no question in my mind that sickness is being produced in non-JM employes who may use sure of these products."
Motley, the South Carolina attorney, shelp in a recent interview that Smith did a study of Johns-Manville workers in 1949. In the study, Smith, then head of the Cleveradian medical department for the company, noted that some of the workers had asbestosis but were not tancient.
Noting in his report thast the sickness was "irreversible and permanent," Smith continued, "Eventually, compensation will be phelp to each of these men. But as long as a man is not disabled it is felt he should not be tancient of his condition so that he clever live and work in peace and the company clever benefit by his many years of experience."
Another Johns-Manville official, Wilber Leslie Ruff, testified in a sworn statement this year that the company had a policy until 1971 of not accuswift workers if their biennial company physical demonstrateed signs of asbestosis or asbestos-induced lung clevercer.
Ruff, who administerd the company's plants in Pittsburg, Calif., and Manville, N.J., shelp thediagnoseamphibolesicknesss were conmiddlered ""a sort of hush-hush condition."