Asbestos and Warren, in a nutshell

Here are the relevant paragraphs from the Globe’s story, emphasis mine:

Travelers was fighting to gain permanent immunity from asbestos-related lawsuits by establishing a $500 million trust. The trust would have been divided among current and future victims of asbestos poisoning who had claims against the nation’s largest asbestos manufacturer, Johns-Manville, which had been insured by Travelers before it went bankrupt.

Travelers won most of what it wanted from the Supreme Court, and in doing so Warren helped preserve an element of bankruptcy law that ensured that victims of large-scale corporate malfeasance would have a better chance of getting compensated, even when the responsible companies go bankrupt.

But after Warren left the case, it continued to twist and turn through the legal system, leaving a result that has been disastrous for asbestos victims. Travelers, in part because of its Supreme Court victory, has held onto its immunity from most lawsuits. But a ruling on Feb. 29 in a separate court has taken the company off the hook for paying out the $500 million settlement.

via Elizabeth Warren was key in asbestos case –

I heard some of Warren on WTKK this morning, and frankly I don’t know if she did as good a job explaining the situation as this.

Stuff is complicated. I don’t think this makes her a corporate stooge by any stretch; she was trying to ensure that victims got paid. Now, that the company decided to try to continue to weasel out of it after her involvement was over, strikes me as not her fault.

I think that’s a fair reading of the evidence.


13 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. I think Jim Braude

    was shit trying to get his point across. Here, let me help you:

    He WANTED to ask the question, “are you responsible for the end result in part, since immunity was part of the trust deal which you had a part of, then later the subsequent vacating of the payments but with immunity meant no other remedy was possible for victims.”

    To which her answer is, “well, Jim, if I was a magical clairvoyant who could read the future maybe I would have done something differently, but the issue in front of us at the time was whether or not trusts would be a tool for future victims. The unions affected by asbestos illnesses and their lawyers still to this day SUPPORT what I did. I stand by it because it was the right thing to do. Litigation is complex and after I left the case, the courts did the wrong thing.”

    She basically said a lot of that but the point trying to be brought across was: “is she partly responsible for the immunity, and hence the fact here was less recourse when the payments were vacated later?” And the answer really is, “that’s irrelevant” because again, the narrow issue she was working on was a specific, very important bankruptcy protection that could have been destroyed by the SCOTUS. Scott Brown is trying to lie about this case BECAUSE it’s hard to explain, but all we need to know is that the victims and their lawyers are ON HER SIDE. She did them no wrong in their own eyes, so why would WE see wrong on their behalf?

    I thought her answers though about the victims and their lawyers applauding her and still supporting what she did was KEY. That needs to be an ad, if Brown goes that route in his ads.

  2. The NEW moronic attack line, BTW

    we’ve moved on to more stupidity…on my feed this morning from a conservative friend, who posted this same Boston Globe article and who is saying that if Warren is signing legal briefs and sitting with general council, then she needs to be barred.

    Thing is, I am sick of people who are not really qualified to make such statements making assumptions about what was or was not legal, and assuming fraud before EVER getting ANY of the real facts.

    Do we honestly believe Warren wouldn’t cross her t’s and dot her i’s?? Come ON. Give me a break.

    Her status is not the first I have heard this line of attack, it sort of came up during the Braude/Egan interview from a caller. I bet Scotto sent one of his ass-in-nine emails this morning and now the Scottbots are out in force.

    They keep coming up with more distractions because Both Ways Brown is going down in flames on the actual real issues that matter to the Commonwealth.

    It won’t stop til Nov 6th unfortunately.

    • Sorry

      She said “licensed” not barred…are they the same thing? She talks about “dues” of a few hundred to the BBO?

      Anyway, this is the new one, be prepared folks.

    • I do not know all the facts

      but this may be a truly stupid line of attack.

      The United States Supreme Court has its own admission process. The Travelers case and a couple of other cases cited by some right-wing blogs were U.S. Supreme Court cases. Warren is admitted to the United States Supreme Court.

      In addition, Warren was not “counsel of record” on the Travelers brief, she was “of counsel.” A Harvard Law professor, as an “of counsel” attorney on a brief in the U.S Supreme Court, is not “practicing law in Massachusetts” simply by listing a Cambridge address on the brief’s cover.

      There is even more latitude when the brief is an amicus curiae brief, or friend of the court brief. In that case the attorney is not representing a party, but simply giving the court more information or another view on behalf of a “friend of the court.” These are routine in the Supreme Court. Warren’s Travelers brief was not such a brief, she represented a party in that case, but most of the others cited in the right-wing blogosphere were. And most of them were in the U.S. Supreme Court, a court to which Warren was – and is -admitted.

      Warren’s name was on a brief in a couple of cases in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Again not as counsel of record. Her role in the case (the last name on the brief) may not have required her to be admitted to that court, or she may have been admitted pro hac vice – just for that case. It happens all the time when out-of-state lawyers are involved in cases. I’ve done it dozens of times. The Fifth Circuit requires attorneys admitted to its bar to retain membership in some state’s bar, but Warren was admitted at all relevant times in New Jersey (she apparently resigned from that bar two weeks ago for some reason), and in the federal district court in New Jersey as well as the U.S. Supreme Court.

      My name was on briefs filed in federal appellate courts to which I’m not admitted in states in which I’m not admitted. I was not counsel of record. Counsel of record was admitted in the court, or at least admitted pro hac vice.

      If I had been in Warren’s shoes, I would have gotten admitted in Mass. Being admitted elsewhere since the 1970s, she’d pay a thousand bucks and be done with it pretty easily. But I think this is, legally speaking, a non-issue.

  3. The point for the campaign to make

    is that this is typical of Scott Brown’s lack of understanding when it comes to complex ideas. He should be scolded for the fact that he’s an attorney and should know and understand the law better. Finally, they should remind him that it was this kind of thinking that led to the loony Inmates for Deval stuff of Kerry Healey.

    I may be wrong, but because we’re a small, educated state, it’s harder to get away with this level of misinformation on a campaign.

    • Maybe the Warren campaign should make the point

      that Warren is smarter than Scott Brown, and by inference smarter than all the voters. That’s always a winning strategy. Or maybe they could skip the middleman and just say “trust us. this is not an issue because it’s too tough to explain to you dumb voters that Warren was in the right on this.”

      • I mean it when I say Scott Brown lacks

        intellectual acuity.

        I’m not sure what speaks to this fact better: his complaining about someone leaking the fact that he was headed to Afghanistan (he was the someone) or the time a reporter asked him for the specific fixes he’d like to see in Dodd-Frank and he replied, “”Well, what areas do you think should be fixed? I mean, you know, tell me. And then I’ll get a team and go fix it.” Or the time he claimed to have seen pictures of the dead Osama bin Laden, apparently not realizing he hadn’t? Or when he claimed that the stimulus package hadn’t created even one job? Or how about when he was asked why he opposed Dodd-Frank. Perhaps you missed his response:

        “I know that the President should start to focus on jobs and job creation and — and — and — and — and that hasn’t been done. Since I’ve been here we’ve done health care, which they obviously rammed through by using a parliamentary procedure that has never been used for something this big ever. And then the bill as we’re finding out is — is flawed, seriously flawed. It’s going to cost medical device companies in my state, you know, thousands of jobs. But then, we’re taking — we’re talking now about regulation reform. We’re politicizing that. Maybe — I’ve heard illegal immigration is going to come forth. When we’re in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the only thing they talked about from the Presidents all the way down to the poorest farmer were jobs. Since I’ve been here, I’ve heard zero talk about jobs. So, I’ll let — leave that up to the political pundits, but I know from what I’ve seen that we need to focus on jobs and the President should start to do so.”

        I’m not claiming the high road here. I’d vote for a yellow dog if it was running against Scott Brown, I’d like to elect someone who is intelligent and represents my values, but I’d settle for the person who votes the way I want as often as possible. So I don’t think you’re stupid or wrong for supporting Scott Brown. He could represent you pretty well even if he sprouted leaves and needed to be watered once a week.

      • That inference would mean Brown is smarter than the average voter

        I think that’s a pretty big stretch. From what I’ve seen, he’s a guy who gets ahead by being popular, not smart.

  4. Brace yourselves!

  5. I agree

    Scott Brown should tie both hands behind his back and refrain from using “all means necessary” to win.

    He puts out an issue that can be interpreted a number of ways and it’s too complicated for a Harvard Law professor (known for being able to put things in simple terms for people to understand) to explain. Boo Hoo.

    Wasn’t there calls all over BMG for Warren to take the gloves off a few weeks and go after Brown?

    Anyone want to comment on Tierney’s ads that associate Tisei with the Tea Party, and then put pictures of Limbaugh, Gringrich and Palin next to him? Is that fair?

    • Yes

      To the extent that “any means necessary” includes “making shit up” then yes, he should refrain.

      It isn’t something “that can be interpreted in a number of ways.” What a horseshit statement: See, here is some bullshit I just made up, and viola! interpreted a different way. If a candidate does not respect me sufficiently not to make things up out of whole cloth, then the candidate is unworthy of my vote.

      The question of Warren’s views on the social utility of the commercial sector is a legitimate one, as I have taken pains to point out elsewhere. It would be nice for Brown to raise it. But that isn’t what’s happening. Instead of a question, we have an smear based on “facts” that someone in the Brown campaign invented.

      As recently as a week ago, I was inclined to split the ticket: against Romney because of my long-standing issues with the competency and worthiness of the national GOP, but for Brown because he did not appear to operate that way.

      In this instance the Brown campaign is saying that rain isn’t wet, and is significantly changing my perception of their candidate for the worse. The longer they stay on that line, the more likely I will vote against their guy.

  6. Tierney's ads against Tisei...

    …while definitely hardball, are at least focused on issues that will come up in Congress as opposed to the nasty guilt-by-association ads from Crossroads about the irrelevant legal troubles of family members.

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