October 28, 2013

Facing asbestos lawsuits, paper giant launched research program

Source:, October 21, 2013
By: Jim Morris

Atlanta-based Georgia-Pacific initiated a secret program designed to prove its product didn’t cause cancer

In the spring of 2005, Georgia-Pacific Corp. found itself facing nearly $1 billion in liability from a product it hadn’t made in nearly three decades: a putty-like building material, known as joint compound, containing the cancer-causing mineral asbestos.

Named in more than 60,000 legal claims, Atlanta-based Georgia-Pacificsought salvation in a secret research program it launched in hopes of exonerating its product as a carcinogen, court records obtained by the Center for Public Integrity show. It hired consultants known for their defense work to conduct studies and publish the results, with input from the company’s legal department — and is attempting to keep key information hidden from plaintiffs.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission had banned all asbestos-containing joint compound as of 1978, and Georgia-Pacific, maker of a widely used version called Ready-Mix, had raised no objection. But in 2005, as asbestos-related diseases with long latency periods mounted, the company revisited the issue with one aim: to defend lawsuits filed by people like Daniel Stupino, a part-time renovation worker who died last year of mesothelioma, a form of cancer virtually always caused by asbestos exposure.

Under its research program, Georgia-Pacific paid 18 scientists a collective $6 million, documents show. These experts were directed by Georgia-Pacific’s longtime head of toxicology, who was “specially employed” by the company’s in-house counsel to work on asbestos litigation and was under orders to hold “in the strictest confidence” all information generated.…

January 11, 2012

Judge Rules Against Company in Pollution Case

Read here about an Atlanta company being held responsible for arsenic and iron coming from a an mine shaft and polluting a portion of a river system in Idaho.…

July 1, 2011

Lawsuit filed over faulty glass at W Hotel

Source:, June 29, 2011
By: John A. Salazar

The falling glass at the W Hotel in Downtown Austin is now turning into a legal battle.

Austin attorney Randy Howry filed a lawsuit against the hotel, alleging negligence on behalf of his two clients who were struck by falling glass from the hotel’s balconies earlier this month.

The expensive hotel, which is also home to the ACL’s Moody Theater, was closed indefinitely Wednesday after three additional glass panes fell from the building.

No one was injured, but a previous incident on June 10 left four people injured, two of whom are listed in the suit.

Howry said his clients suffered cuts, bruises and abrasions from the falling glass, as well as wounds that required stitches.

The Austin lawyer said the expensive boutique hotel chain was aware of window problems, citing a May accident at the W Hotel in Atlanta where one woman was killed and another was injured.

“Seventeen days pass and we put them on notice, our clients have put them on notice, yet nothing has been done and only after the glass fell yesterday did they do something about it,” Howry said.

While the lawsuit is filed against Starwood Hotels and Resorts, the W’s parent company, there may be more legal action in the near future.

Meanwhile, as construction workers were busy removing the panels Thursday, street closures down below created traffic congestion throughout the day. Streets around the hotel, located at 200 Lavaca Street, will remain closed until further notice.

One local resident says the work performed during construction should have been done right the first time.

“I think somebody didn’t do their job right, you’d think securing glass panels would be job number one and that they would double engineer that,” Austinite Jeff Surber said.

Late Wednesday afternoon, the hotel released the names of five companies who worked on the hotel, including the balconies, specifically.

The hotel still says it has not figured out what is causing the glass to fail.…

March 17, 2011

Petersen architects owe Pitt $5.9 million

Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 17, 2011
By: Chris Ramirez

Two architecture firms must pay $5.9 million to the University of Pittsburgh for problems stemming from bad heating and air conditioning work in the Petersen Events Center, an Allegheny County judge ruled.

Common Pleas Judge Joseph M. James ruled last month after a nonjury trial that Apostolou Associates/Rosser International Inc. breached its contract with the school and failed to perform its work “with due care and in a manner that met the applicable standard of care” during the arena’s construction, court documents say.

Apostolou Associates/Rosser International is the name of a joint venture of Apostolou Associates, in Mt. Washington, and Atlanta-based Rosser International Inc. They worked together to install the on-campus arena’s heating, ventilating and air conditioning system, and are asking for a new trial.…

December 20, 2010

El Dorado Hills asbestos levels don’t warrant full-scale study, U.S. report says

Publication Date 04/05/2010
Source: Sacramento Bee (CA)

El Dorado Hills residents face increased risks of disease from exposure to naturally occurring asbestos, but asbestos levels don’t appear to be high enough to warrant an extensive health study, according to federal health officials.

A “health consultation” report released last week by the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, evaluated risks of asbestos exposure throughout the community.

It addressed questions raised by residents following a similar report in 2005 that focused on risks of asbestos exposure at El Dorado Hills’ Oak Ridge High School campus.…