Board of Directors
Robert B. Cameron, M.D.
UCLA Medical School
Nicholas J. Vogelzang, M.D.
University of Chicago
M. Ann Abbe
Michael Harbut, M.D., M.P.H.
Royal Oak, MI
Roger G. Worthington, Esq.
Matthew Bergman, Esq.
St. Paul, Minnesota
Cary, North Carolina
Ulf Jungnelius M.D.
Congressman Bruce F. Vento
Science Advisory Board
Harvey Pass, M.D., Chairman
Karmanos Cancer Institute
Victor Roggli, M.D.
Robert N. Taub, M.D.
Lary A. Robinson, M.D.
H. Lee Moffit Cancer Center
Steve Hahn, M.D.
University of Pennsylvania
Joseph R. Testa, Ph. D.
Fox Chase Cancer Center
Claire Verschraegen, M.D.
University of New Mexico
Eric Vallieres, M.D.
Swedish Cancer Institute
Dan Miller, M.D.
Raphael Bueno, M.D.
Harvard/Brigham and Women's
Hedy Lee Kindler, M.D.
University of Chicago
W. Roy Smythe, M.D.
Christopher E. Hahn
1609 Garden Street
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
tel (805) 560-8942
fax (805) 560-8962
Our mission is to eradicate mesothelioma as a life-ending disease.
August 27, 2004
VIA REGULAR U.S. MAIL,
TELECOPY (212) 644-6755,
and E-MAIL (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Elihu Inselbuch, Esq.
Caplin & Drysdale
399 Park Ave.
New York, NY 10022
Funding Medical Research on Prevention, Detection, Treatment and Cure of
Asbestos Cancer from Asbestos Debtors' Trust
Dear Mr. Inselbuch:
Fred Baron and Peter Kraus suggested I contact you. I am the Founding Director
of the Mesothelioma Applied Research Foundation (MARF), the only 501(c)(3)
charity whose mission is to eradicate mesothelioma as a life-ending disease.
In 2002, we offered Judge Wolin our expertise in assisting the Court evaluate
the singularly devastating financial and medical hardships endured by
We are addressing this letter to you in your capacity as counsel for asbestos
victims' creditors in several ongoing Chapter 11 reorganizations.
The problem is familiar to you: billions of dollars have been consumed
by asbestos litigation, millions of Americans walk around with dangerous
levels of asbestos fibers in their lungs, thousands have died from mesothelioma,
and the cancer is predicted to peak in 2025. About 3,000 Americans are
diagnosed with this fatal cancer annually, of which 32% contracted the
disease while serving in the U.S. Navy or working in Navy shipyards. Despite
the money spent and the lives lost, neither industry nor the government
has ever embarked on a serious mission to fund medical research designed
to prevent, detect, treat or cure mesothelioma.
On behalf of present and future mesothelioma patients, we are asking for
your help in solving this socio-economic, legal and public health crisis.
A coalition of doctors, trial lawyers and industry lawyers (viz. Owens
Corning Fiberglas and W.R. Grace) formed MARF in 1999. We agreed that
the time was long overdue to spend more of our energy on fixing the problem,
and less time on fixing blame OCF pledged $1 million to MARF, of which
it paid $100,000 before it sought bankruptcy protection. W.R. Grace had
also indicated that it too would donate handsomely to MARF prior to its
going into Chapter 11. There is, we believe, a consensus among competing
factions to unite against the common enemy.
Today, we understand that OCF has already burned through nearly $100 million
in bankruptcy costs (mainly legal fees), while WRG has paid out over $55
million. And the meter is running. Assuming a 6-year detour in the bankruptcy
courts, the anticipated costs are projected to exceed $186 and $102 million
for OCF and WRG, respectively. The anticipated value of the bankruptcy
settlement trusts for OCF and WRG are projected to exceed $3 and $1 billion,
respectively. Naturally, MARF regrets that it most likely will never collect
the balance of the debt owed by OCF -- money that would have been invested
directly into peer-reviewed research grants targeted at preventing, treating
and curing mesothelioma.
We understand that in the near future, once the trust distribution plans
are approved for a dozen or so of the largest Chapter 11 reorganizations,
there is likely to be a combined pool of between $11 and $22 billion dedicated
to compensating asbestos victims. We believe that in addition to maximizing
compensation for asbestos cancer claimants, trustees should also have
a duty to invest the trust money in a medical program designed to prolong
the survival of current asbestos cancer victims and prevent the existence
of future cancer claimants.
We would like to speak to you about whether the trustees, in your view,
have any legal authority to allocate a portion of the settlement trust
to medical research for the detection, prevention and cure of asbestos
cancer. Is there a scenario within the existing web of rules, court rulings
and codes that would permit trustees to fund peer-reviewed medical research?
If not, what changes need to be made, at any level, that would authorize
if not encourage trustees to invest a portion of the trust in medical
research that would potentially help reduce the quantity and quality of
future claims? We realize that the short answer, based on precedent and
the black letter of the law, may ironically prevent trustees from dedicating
hard fought trust dollars to help prevent or alleviate the suffering of
present and future beneficiaries. But if asbestos victims cannot count
on the trustees to hold the debtors accountable for cleaning up the mess
they have wrought, who can? Who will help close Pandora's box of relentless
pain and misery?
We believe that mesothelioma is presumed to be "incurable" only
because there has never been a concerted effort by the asbestos industry,
the government, the insurance companies and the victims and their lawyers
to fund the medical research necessary to cure it. On behalf of mesothelioma
patients, we are looking for your guidance and support.
My phone number is (949) 496-5918.
Roger G. Worthington
cc: Peter Lockwood, Esq.