Company Exposed For Launching Secret Research Program after Facing Asbestos Claims

By Peter DePaolis

According to The Center for Public Integrity, in 2005, Georgia-Pacific Corp. found itself facing a product liability lawsuit of over $1 billion for a product it had not manufactured in nearly three decades: the cancer-causing mineral asbestos.

Accused in over 60,000 legal claims, Atlanta-based Georgia-Pacific launched a secret research program in hopes of clearing its name in regards to the carcinogen. The company hired consultants to conduct studies and publish results, with input from the company’s legal department. The company is doing this in an effort to keep information hidden from thousands of plaintiffs.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission had banned all asbestos-containing joint compounds in 1978, and Georgia-Pacific, the maker of a widely-used version called Ready-Mix, had previously raised no objection. In 2005, however, as asbestos-related diseases mounted, the company reexamined the issue with one aim: to defend claims filed by their consumers that are now dying from mesothelioma.

In its research program, Georgia-Pacific paid 18 scientists a collective $6 million to work on asbestos litigation and was under orders to hold “in the strictest confidence” all information generated.

Just like tobacco companies did years earlier, Georgia-Pacific controlled the scientific studies and claimed all communications were privileged and not subject to discovery in litigation.

The company is trying to “rewrite history,” stated Linda Reinstein, co-founder of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization. “Georgia-Pacific funded junk science in an attempt to contest the known facts about asbestos and negate its culpability in this man-made disaster.”

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Did You Know: 10,000 Americans will die this year of asbestos-related diseases and 200,000 are currently living with asbestosis.

Koonz, McKenney, Johnson & DePaolis L.L.P.

Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia Injury Attorneys


About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.