February 09, 2005

Better Living Through Asbestos

BoingBoing had an interesting article today about Google's AdSense technology. I thought I would test it. Warning: boring autobiography in the extended entryfollows.

If you've followed my site for a while, you might know that I play an attorney in real life. Although I used to be a musician, I eventually had to grow up and "get a real job." Through a combination of decent grades and acing the LSAT (99th percentile, thank you very much), I made it into a top-10 (or top-25, depending on your poll) law school.

Funny thing, though: few Texas law firms wanted to hire anyone out of Georgetown in the early 90s unless they were in the top 10%, which I wasn't. When I got back to Texas - with a very pregnant wife and no job - I pretty much had to scratch and scrape for work. The first real job I got was as a staff attorney (read: underpaid associate attorney NOT on the "partner track") in a big insurance-defense firm doing asbestos litigation.

I lasted in that job exactly one year. During that period of time, I attended 80 or so depositions of plaintiffs asserting that their lung disease had nothing to do with their 2-pack-a-day smoking habit and everything to do with the brief exposure they had to my then-client's insulating cement during a few-year period in the 1960s.

I think there was only one legitimate claim among those 80 or so plaintiffs; a man with mesothelioma (a lung cancer which is caused pretty much only by asbestos exposure). Of course, my client was one of 25 or so defendants, so it was hard to tell what, if any, role my client's cement played in the poor guy's cancer. It costs too much to take the cases to trial, so we settled for nuisance amounts. I thought it was a complete waste of time and resources.

I took particular joy in John Kerry's loss, since the chairman of his Victory '04 committee was one of the name partners in that asbestos plaintiffs' mill.

Posted by JohnL at February 9, 2005 10:16 PM

Interesting. I thought Baron and Budd was mostly commercial lit.

Posted by: RP at February 11, 2005 01:34 PM

Nope. They built their house on asbestos. They've since diversified into other mass torts.

Posted by: JohnL at February 11, 2005 01:39 PM
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