Asbestos attorneys: “Trust us. We know what we’re doing.”

The SE Texas Record Nov. 19, 2013, 10:12am

The title character in the 1986 TV cop show parody Sledge Hammer, played to perfection by David Rasche, was a comically alarming combination of Dirty Harry, Maxwell Smart and Fearless Fosdick. His catch phrase (“Trust me. I know what I’m doing.”) inevitably preceded his next foray into mayhem and inspired confidence in no one. 

Convinced that the show would not be renewed, its creator wrapped up the first season with Sledge Hammer’s bungling effort to defuse a nuclear bomb. The bomb exploded in the final seconds of the last episode, obliterating the entire city and seemingly destroying any chance of bringing back the program the following year.

The surprise ending created a buzz for the show, however, and Season Two was green-lighted. The first episode of the second season began with these words superimposed on the screen: “Five years earlier.”

Asbestos attorneys may not have first and last names as amusingly apt as Sledge Hammer’s, but they do seem to share the loony lawman’s unrealistic expectations about being trusted.

As the Wall Street Journal noted earlier this week, “Asbestos trusts manage some $36 billion, which is an invitation to fraud. The plaintiffs bar files claims with many trusts on behalf of the same client -- arguing a different cause of asbestos disease with each claim. They can pull this off because trusts don’t share claims data with each other or with the courts, and the plaintiffs bar has pressured the trusts to keep claims confidential.”

The Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act passed by the House of Representatives last week is intended to protect the trusts from untrustworthy attorneys by requiring disclosure of claim information quarterly and compliance with information requests from asbestos litigators.

Needless to say, the bill does not appeal to Beaumont native son Brent “Double Dip” Coon and other prominent asbestos attorneys who prefer to operate in secrecy.

We’re confident they know what they’re doing, and that’s exactly why we don’t trust them.

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