Our View: Asbestos litigation, a cure worse than the disease?

The SE Texas Record Oct. 21, 2014, 9:09am

The problem with asbestos fibers is that they can, when dispersed, be absorbed into the body and cause disease.

The problem with asbestos funds – the riches acquired by asbestos attorneys in lawsuit settlements that generate great profits for them, great losses for targeted defendants, and sometimes precious little for the plaintiffs – is much the same. When distributed, they can be absorbed into, and sicken, the body politic. 

They can be donated to the electoral campaigns of legislators who have passed, or who promise to pass, laws making it easier for their generous contributors to secure asbestos settlements.

They can be donated to the electoral campaigns of judges who have ruled, or can be expected to rule, in favor of their generous contributors – thereby enriching them still further, ensuring more contributions, and perpetuating the cycle of sickness.

When legislators enact laws for the benefit of special interests instead of for the general welfare, and when judges abandon impartiality and start taking sides, the body politic is poisoned.

Unlike asbestos manufacturers, however, who never set out to do harm, the parties poisoning the body politic seem to be quite cognizant of the consequences of their contamination, and happy with the results.

Why are Beaumont law firm Provost Umphrey (PU) and co-founder Walter Umphrey donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to state and judicial races in this election cycle?

Why did PU donate $15,000 to the reelection campaign of Beaumont Judge Donald Floyd last fall?

Why have Umphrey and his firm contributed more than half a million dollars so far to the gubernatorial campaign of Wendy Davis?

Are the huge donations made to legislators and jurists by asbestos attorneys and firms motivated by altruism or a desire for good government? Or, are they more of an investment, with an expectation of return?

When wealthy attorneys finance the elections of the legislators and judges who help make them wealthy, what chance do the rest of us have to be represented?

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