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US Chamber calls for asbestos litigation investigation

[JURIST] The CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce [official website] Friday called for the US Department of Justice to investigate allegations of widespread fraud in asbestos lawsuits. The letter [press release] sent by Thomas Donohue alleges that lawyers and doctors across the country are engaged in systematic diagnostic fraud, and are bringing hundreds of meritless asbestos claims that are forcing companies into bankruptcy. Donohue made reference to a series of silica lawsuits currently being litigated in Texas. According the letter, investigations in the cases have revealed suspect diagnostic techniques by doctors, some of which are involved in a number of asbestos cases. Donohue also cited a 2004 academic study [PDF] that questioned whether hundreds of chest X-rays offered as evidence in asbestos injury lawsuits were properly interpreted by radiologists. The issue of asbestos lawsuit reform is not new. The FAIR Act of 2005 [PDF] was introduced in the House of Representatives earlier last month. Under the bill, Congress would establish an Office of Asbestos Disease Compensation to review asbestos claims and distribute awards on an individual basis. The amount of the award would be determined by the severity of the claim and would not exceed $950,000. Reuters has more.

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