New York Court Seeks Transparency Regarding Georgia-Pacific Funded Studies on Asbestos

This past June, the Supreme Court of New York County denied motions by defendant Georgia-Pacific (GP) to vacate the Special Master's recommendations to produce data related to eight studies funded by GP.

These studies concerned the health effects of GP's joint compound, a substance that regularly contained asbestos in the U.S. until the 1980's, and were used to aid GP in its defense of asbestos-related lawsuits-namely mesothelioma cases. The studies were performed by experts retained by GP and at the hand of Stewart Holm, GP's Director of Toxicology and Chemical Management, who also reported to GP's legal department.

The New York court emphasized Holm's "special role" at GP while also having major involvement with the studies he produced-he co-authored most of them, and he and GP's counsel "participated in lengthy 'WebEx Conferences'" for the two articles that he did not co-author, discussing the manuscripts and suggesting revisions. Also troubling was that the articles did not disclose that Holm was specially employed by GP for asbestos litigation, or that he reported to GP's in-house counsel. In effect, Holm's undisclosed relationship with GP was concerning because it left room for GP to have a direct hand in the development and outcome of these studies.

For more information on the background of asbestos and mesothelioma, as well as GP's possible impetus in creating these studies, read this article.