“The Smoking Congresswoman and Her Asbestos Lawsuit”

Paul Barrett at Business Week:

…even a politically moderate, law school-educated guy like me, someone who’s perfectly prepared to root for a suit against a dishonest insurance company or an exploitative landlord, finds himself increasingly dismayed by the uses to which our civil justice system is put.

That’s by way of introducing the lawsuit filed by 69-year-old Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), known as a big-time smoker, attributing her lung cancer to asbestos products made by more than 40 companies. Did we mention that representing her is the politically well-connected New York firm of Weitz & Luxenberg?


  • IANAL, but the sheer chutzpah of this poly-tick critter makes me shake my head in wonderment.
    And, regrettably, it will not be summarily thrown out of court, but will proceed. I’m sure of it. We now live in Bizarro Land.
    How in the world is she going to even *prove* her claim?!?!

  • Let me second the sentiment….. “increasingly dismayed by the uses to which our civil justice system is put.”

  • If the Congresswoman was diagnosed with mesothelioma, then the claim against asbestos makes sense as smoking is considered only a risk factor for the asbestos effect.

    I suspect we have a case of statutory presumptions overruling common sense.

  • Anyone who is upset about this case proceeding does not know anything about mesothelioma causes. Many of those who have won settlements have been smokers. Do 5 minutes of homework before you get on your soap-box.

  • […] Perhaps it was overreach for a prominent New York City plaintiff’s law firm to file asbestos litigation on behalf of Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, the famously chain-smoking Long Island Congresswoman now fighting lung cancer, against General Electric, Pfizer and more than 70 other companies. The high-profile case is focusing public attention on the legal fictions by which lawyers have been lassoing seemingly conventional lung cancer cases and bringing them into the asbestos litigation system [Joe Nocera, New York Times; earlier] […]