A History of the
Choking Off the Right to Sue: GAF's Campaign to Restrict Asbestos Victims' Rights
by Charlie Cray
Decades of asbestos litigation in the United States have involved hundreds of companies, ranging from some of the largest Fortune 500 corporations to local hardware stores. Forced to pay for exposing workers - most of whom were unaware of the risks - to the deadly substance, many of these companies have seen their bottom lines hit hard, and some have even plunged into bankruptcy.
At least one company, however, believes it should not be required to fully compensate workers exposed to the asbestos it used. Reasoning that its liability should be minimal for sales of a product it ceased marketing three decades ago, the New Jersey-based GAF corporation has spent millions of dollars in the past few years orchestrating a highly sophisticated campaign to enact legislation which critics say would strip away the rights of tens of thousands of U.S. asbestos victims, many of whom are just beginning to become sick and file suit. MORE>>
A Breath of Fresh Air: WTO Ruling Upholds France's Asbestos Ban, Rejects Canadian Challenge
By Laurie Kazan-Allen
For the first time in its five-year history, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has ruled in favor of public health and against free trade.
In a judgment disclosed to the litigants in June, finalized in July, and expected to be made public in September, the WTO has upheld a 1997 French ban on chrysotile asbestos, the only form of the mineral still legal in the EU. Canada had challenged this ban, arguing that the "controlled use" of chrysotile asbestos was a valid means of eliminating health risks associated with its use. The French ban thus violated WTO requirements to pursue the "least trade restrictive" means to achieve public health objectives, Canada claimed, especially since, it argued, alternative materials pose their own health risks. MORE>>
A History of the Deadly Dust
An Interview with Barry Castleman
Barry Castleman is an environmentalist and researcher specializing in health issues. Castleman is the author of Asbestos: Medical and Legal Aspects, which is the standard reference for understanding the history of asbestos-caused diseases. His current work addresses the dumping of asbestos in developing countries. MORE>>