a massive conglomerate that also owns Miller Beer, Kraft, General Foods, and other product lines, and it spends about a hundred million dollars a year advertising on ABC. This is what it means for Wall Streeters to take over America’s news mediawhen push comes to shove among corporate barons, journalism is always sacrificed to money. HOW LOW CAN HE GO? He’s powerful, he’s blatantly ambitious, he’s running for president, he’s…Bob Dole. Is there nothing too low for the dark, dour, Dole-ster to stoop to in his climb up the political ladder? In one of his sorriest efforts to pander to the Republican right-wing, Dole has sunk into the cheap pit of gay-bashing. His campaign has recently made a huge, highlypublicized show of returning a thousanddollar contribution from a group called “The Log Cabin Republicans.” This is an organization of homosexual Republicans, and it’s been active in the party for years. Why is this such a cynical, hypocritical play by Dole? In the first place, he’s no virginhe’s accepted donations from gays in the past. And in the second place, this particular thousand dollar check didn’t become too hot to handle until it became politically convenient for Dole to use gays as whipping boys. Indeed, his campaign receivedand depositedthe check way back in June. Well, you say, maybe they didn’t know who the Log Cabin Republicans are. Nice try, but no cigar. The Dole campaign solicited the donation! From a letter sent to the president of the GOP gay group back in May by Dole’s campaign: “Per our discussion, I am attaching a list of upcoming Dole for President fund-raising events. Senator Dole and I would appreciate any assistance you could give us in turning out your members at each event. I am looking forward to working with you.” Now, Dole piously tells us that we should judge him by the contributions he keeps. Yeah, like the millions of dollars he’s raking in from corporate executives with a direct interest in legislation he controls as senate majority leader! It’s not the Log Cabin Republicans who’re corrupting Americait’s the political prostitutes like Bob Dole. LITTLE PRINCE ON TOUR There he goes againit’s time for another “Eye-On Newt” Report. Newt Gingrich, that ethically-slippery salamander, slipped all around the country last month on a twenty-five-city, superhyped media tour, to hawk his book. The Continued.on p. 13 I think my community has been exposed to chemicals that leaked from storage tanks located a few blocks from our homes. Some government scientists visited the area and just confused us, and attorneys have been roaming the neighborhood in an attempt to get us to sign a contract giving them the right to represent us. We need representation, but I have no idea which one of these guys to pick. Do you have any ideas? It’s amazing how many lawyers crawl out of the woodwork at the first whiff of noxious fumes. It is extremely tempting when faced with a situation such as yours to reach out to anyone who offers help. But one of the first pieces of advice we would give someone in your situation is DO NOT sign a contract with any lawyer until you have done the following: Thoroughly check the lawyer’s background. Is the lawyer experienced in toxic tort cases? Ask for specific cases and for the results of those cases. If your community is organized, establish a committee purely to select a lawyer. One community we know was very successful in their case by doing just that. The committee interviewed many lawyers before finally settling on one they all agreed on. The community went to trial confident in the committee’s choice and won the case. Make sure the lawyer has a substantial track record in the preparation and trial of cases. Too often the lawyer fails to adequately prepare the case on the issues of exposure and causation, but rather seeks a settlement from a position of weakness. If an inexperienced lawyer goes to trial on an illprepared case, expect disastrous results. Check out the lawyer’s financial resources. It is extremely expensive to adequately represent a client in a toxic tort case. Toxic tort is one of the most expensive forms of litigation. Without adequate resources, the lawyer may be unable to retain the personnel vital to a successful lawsuit. It is ethically wrong for a lawyer to accept a case in which he either has insufficient experience to properly handle the case or represents he’ll be handling it when he Marvin S. Legator is a professor and director of the Division of Environmental Toxicology at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston. Amanda M. HowellsDaniel is with the Toxics Assistance Program at the University of Texas Medical Branch. The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect those of UTMB Galveston. intends to find another attorney to prepare and try the case but share in attorney fees. Most lawyers handle toxic tort cases on a contingency basis. If the one you are considering to represent you requires the community to pay up front, choose another lawyer. Make sure the lawyer’s share of the final award/settlement is appropriate thirty percent to forty percent \(plus exMake sure the lawyer has a well-established practice in handling toxic tort cases and is not simply a “referring” lawyer who simply drums up business to sell to an esfor a percentage of the fees. Avoid middlemen. Do your own research, and don’t be intimidated into picking your lawyer in haste. Do not feel pressured into thinking you have to make a decision immediately, since there generally is plenty of time for you to do your homework. The toxic exposure victim \(or commutorney explain the likelihood of a legal remedy being available; the nature of such remedy; what proof \(e.g., exposure and relief; and exactly how the attorney in proposes to obtain the required evidence. If there is no realistic basis for a legal remedy, then don’t hire a lawyer just to seek a nominal settlement. Sometimes discovery through a lawsuit is necessary before a determination can be made on the availability of a legal remedy. If this is the case, the attorney you select should be able to explain how he will go about securing the information for making such a determination. As far as your confusion by the regulatory scientists is concerned, you are not alone. These scientists are notorious for bewildering the general public. Their use of acronyms is often quite intimidating, although sometimes unintentional. Do not be lulled into a stupor by esoteric language. If you are unclear about what they say, demand an interpretation in layman’s terms. There are also a number of sources you may access for an explanation of some of their scientific gobbledygook, one being the book Chemical AlertA Community Action Handbook \(University of Texas call Amanda Daniel at the Toxics AssisMarvin S. Legator and Amanda M. Howells-Daniel A CHEMICAL WORLD THE TEXAS OBSERVER 15
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