The difficulty of making a malignant mesothelioma diagnosis continues to stimulate discussion in the medical community. Last month, Dr. Aliya Husain from the Department of Pathology at the University of Chicago, and her colleague Qudsia Arif, published a short and direct article titled “Malignant Mesothelioma Diagnosis” in Archives of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. The published context for the article states “mesothelioma is a relatively rare pleural tumor that may mimic benign mesothelial lesions and various other tumors . . . this makes the diagnosis challenging for the pathologist.” This blog has discussed some of those difficulties in prior posts here and here.
Continue Reading Diagnosing Mesothelioma Continues to Challenge Pathologists

Despite how it might seem from the deluge of television advertisements the diagnosis of mesothelioma is very rare, and extremely difficult.   As discussed in a prior post, the diagnostic process can be fraught with complications depending on the type and amount of material available for evaluation. One of the most common problems is distinguishing an epithelial malignant mesothelioma from a primary lung carcinoma. That difficultly is multiplied when the tumor is poorly differentiated or when the biopsy specimens are small.
Continue Reading Update on Diagnosing Malignant Mesothelioma

Earlier this week, the Seventh Circuit issued a ruling in Lu Junhong v. Boeing Co. that defendants can remove cases to federal court under admiralty jurisdiction alone. The ruling may very well change the dynamics of mass tort filings in so-called “magnet jurisdictions” like Madison County and Cook County.

Junhong involved a group of Cook County cases from Asiana Airlines Flight 214. Two years ago, that Boeing 777 crashed into the seawall at San Francisco International Airport. The plane’s tail broke off, 49 persons suffered serious injuries, and three of the passengers died (the other 255 passengers and crew aboard suffered only minor or no injuries). Passengers sued Boeing in Illinois state court, alleging the plane’s systems were defective and contributed to the pilots’ errors. Boeing then removed the lawsuits to federal court, asserting two sources of jurisdiction: federal officer under § 1442 and general admiralty under § 1333.
Continue Reading Potential Game Changer: Admiralty Jurisdiction Serves As A Basis For Removal

Noting that the result is preliminary and must be evaluated in clinical trials, Australian researchers working with the Asbestos Disease Research Institute published a case report announcing significant improvement for a pleural mesothelioma patient treated with microRNA therapy.  The results were reported in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.
Continue Reading MicroRNA Therapy Delivers Positive Result in Early Mesothelioma Treatment Test

Pennsylvania employers are raising arguments that may circumvent the effect of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision stripping them of the protections of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act (WCA) for latent occupational diseases.  In the November 2013 decision in Tooey v. AK Steel Corp. (see the related post here), the Pennsylvania Supreme Court allowed former employees with occupational diseases, like mesothelioma, to sue their employers directly for diseases that manifest more than 300 weeks after employment ends.  In the wake of Tooey, employers have focused on the Pennsylvania Occupational Disease Act (ODA) arguing that it still provides administrative remedies that must be exhausted before a former employee can sue for a latent occupational disease.
Continue Reading PA Employers Craft Arguments To Navigate Around Tooey

“The times they are a-changin” wrote Bob Dylan in 1964. Is New York City – recently dubbed by the American Tort Reform Association the Number 1 “Judicial Hellhole” in large part because of its pro-plaintiff bent in asbestos litigation – “a-changin” too? First, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was indicted for various allegedly bad judgments in connection with using state money to secure asbestos referrals and whopping settlement fees. Next, the judge that supervised the New York City Asbestos Litigation (NYCAL) for almost a decade is out and a new judge takes over. And then this week, Judge Barbara Jaffe issued a potentially game-changing opinion in the NYCAL, striking an $11 million plaintiff’s verdict in a mesothelioma case.
Continue Reading NY Judge Tosses Plaintiff’s Asbestos Causation Opinion

Most recent news items about mesothelioma focus on asbestos litigation and lawyer advertising for clients to file cases, bankruptcy trust claims, or both.  A recent news story, however, focuses on a potential treatment option for patients with mesothelioma.  The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently granted a drug in development to treat malignant pleural mesothelioma “orphan drug” designation.  The FDA’s Office of Orphan Products Development grants “orphan drug” designation to some new drugs that may be effective at treating diseases that affect fewer than 200,000 Americans.  Orphan drug status provides incentives to companies to develop drugs that might otherwise be unprofitable, and a company can use the exclusivity to develop drugs that anyone else might develop but do not have a large affected population.  The FDA’s designation gives drug creators grant funding, tax credits for certain research, a waiver of the Biologics License Application user fee, and the potential for marketing exclusivity in the United States for seven years. 
Continue Reading New Mesothelioma Drug Shows Promising Results

Does exposure to vinylidene chloride (VDC) cause malignant mesothelioma?  According to a new study, the answer may be yes.  A two-year National Toxicology Program study found that a particular species of male rat exposed to VDC resulted in a marked increase in malignant mesothelioma.  According to the study, “a chronic, pro-inflammatory environment associated with VDC exposure may exacerbate disturbances in oncogene, growth factor, and cell cycle regulation, resulting in an increased incidence of mesothelioma.”  The study concludes that VDC exposure may lead to cytotoxicity and DNA damage resulting in hyperplasia and genetic instability that are important risk factors in the development of cancer.
Continue Reading New Study Suggests VDC May Cause Malignant Mesothelioma

A definitive diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma based on cytology alone is fraught with problems, and should be thoroughly investigated by attorneys on both sides of the litigation according to a Law 360 article authored by Schiff Hardin partners Edward Casmere and Joshua D. Lee.  Asbestos litigants are increasingly presented with fewer medical records