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Ford Spent Millions Reshaping Science Behind Asbestos Risks

Feb 16, 2016

Asbestos has been connected with many life-threatening illnesses, including mesothelioma cancer. The heat-resistant silicate mineral can be found in fibers, particularly those that line car brakes. While researchers still discuss the amount of exposure necessary for damage to ensue, they agree that any form of asbestos exposure can put individuals at risk. The World Health Organization estimates that 107,000 people pass away because of diseases caused by asbestos. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration suggests no “safe” level of asbestos exposure.

One company often involved in asbestos lawsuits is Ford Motor Company. New reports suggest the automotive mogul spent around $40 million funding journal articles that created doubt in the relationship between asbestos found in their car’s brake linings and mesothelioma. Former Ford attorney Darrell Grams contacted toxicologist Dennis Paustenbach in 2001 to write article on behalf of the motor company.

Paustenbach was a vice president of Exponent, a consulting firm, and later went on to start Cardno ChemRisk. A renowned scientist, the toxicologist’s articles helped Ford combat lawsuits claiming the company exposed workers to asbestos. Because of the relationship between Paustenbach and Ford, Exponent raised $18.2 million and Cardno ChemRisk gained $21 million.

Critics claim Ford paid scientists to create articles with misleading structure of doubt. Paustenbach’s journal entries allegedly found no connection between asbestos in brake linings and illnesses. However, previously, many researchers argued asbestos leading to mesothelioma. Defendant’s attorneys, such as Grams, cited the information to settle lawsuits. The shaky information illustrates the culpability of paid research and the lives of asbestos victims.

In the past 10 years, 109 scientists, physicians, and academics from 17 different countries signed briefs highlighting dangers of asbestos in brakes. Yet, when Craig Biegel, a retired attorney, conducted a search on “asbestos” and “brakes” in the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed website, he found 27 articles written by industry experts who claimed no asbestos danger in brakes. He found 10 articles written by plaintiff lawyers arguing the opposite. Finally, he found 11 articles by foreign scientists who had not litigation motives or experience. All but one of these articles cited the dangers of asbestos.

By hiring researchers to write articles that favor their argument, Ford essentially buys science. These articles not only offer misleading, thin information, but if used by the defendant, can potentially prevent asbestos victims from recovering the compensation they deserve. At Bailey Peavey Bailey Cowan Heckaman, PLLC, we are not afraid to challenge faulty information on behalf of asbestos victims. Our national mesothelioma lawyers use their extensive experience to fight for justice on behalf of their clients. If you suffered because of asbestos exposure, call today! You don’t pay unless we win.

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