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Senate candidate on defensive over asbestos issue

Lawyer Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic U.S. Senate candidate from Massachusetts, is defending her representation of an insurance company in an asbestos lawsuit, the Boston Globe reports.

Warren’s Republican opponent, U.S. Senator Scott Brown, has attacked her for representing Travelers Insurance in a 2009 lawsuit. Brown alleges that Warren’s work on behalf of a corporate client undercuts her reputation as a consumer advocate.

Breathing high levels of asbestos fibers can lead to an increased risk of lung cancer; mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the chest and the abdominal cavity; and asbestosis, in which the lungs become scarred with fibrous tissue.

In the 2009 case, Warren defended Travelers when the company was seeking protection from future claims as part of an agreement that would also unlock a $500 million settlement for asbestos victims. Many victims supported that step.

But after Warren’s work on the case ended, Travelers won another court ruling – currently under appeal — that allowed it to avoid paying victims.

During a radio interview, Warren said she had no way of knowing that Travelers would seek to avoid paying victims from the settlement after the case.

Warren is quoted as saying: “After I left the case, the lower court made the wrong decision.”

She insisted that the idea behind allowing Travelers to unlock the trust was to guarantee that “everyone gets compensated,” pointing out that plaintiffs’ lawyers in the case and asbestos workers’ unions said her advocacy in the case helped protect the settlement for victims.

“It was going to the Supreme Court on a specific question,” Warren said. “And the question was: will trusts survive as a legal tool?”

If you or a loved one have contracted mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure, contact Lopez McHugh for a free consultation.

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