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Archive for March, 2013

H.R. 982: Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2013

According to the US Government Printing Office the full title is as follows:

Thank you Sokolove Law for the amazing info graphics.

Thank you Sokolove Law for the amazing info graphics.

“To amend title 11 of the United States Code to require the public disclosure by trusts established under section 524(g) of such title, of quarterly reports that contain detailed information regarding the receipt and disposition of claims for injuries based on exposure to asbestos; and for other purposes.”

As many of you already know, the use of ASBESTOS was never really banned here in the U.S. ASBESTOS exposure is currently considered the leading cause of the terribly debilitating and deadly disease Mesothelioma. It is a cancer that attacks the mesothelium, basically the layer of cells that surrounds our body’s organs. In my father it did not attack his lungs as it has many of it’s victims, but rather the linings of his lower internal organs. Ultimately the meso tumors grew so large around his intestines, they blocked his bowel and forced him onto a purely medical, liquid diet. He grew weaker and thinner and he was unable to move around, let alone continue to run marathons and have a pint at the pub.

Just a couple of weeks before my dad, Larry Davis, died.

Just a couple of weeks before my dad, Larry Davis, died.

Fortunately he had health insurance at the time of his diagnosis, however the extent of the bills I can only imagine, was overwhelming. Had it not been for his lawyer and their hard work advocating for victims of Mesothelioma, then my father would have never seen the producers and users of asbestos punished for killing him.

From what I understand this FACT Act, H.R. 982, currently before the 113th Congress, was designed to cut down on potential fraudulent claims that asbestos is killing people. I can promise you that my father did not make up this disease. I can promise you that he was not pretending to die. And there are millions of other victims who also died as a direct result of asbestos poisoning … and only 1 claim of fraud in those millions has been identified.

So instead of creating a Bill to ban the use of asbestos completely, Congress is working to approve a bill that may very well place road blocks in the way of patients seeking financial help and compensation for their pain and suffering and medical bills. This bill is also expected to totally invade the privacy of the little guy, the victim and the family, by allowing these giant corporations who’ve continued using this known carcinogen to access client information including confidential settlements, exposure points, work history and the like. Effectively making each victim’s personal information available outright and creating a situation where these businesses can continue to pass the buck or at the very least continue to look for loop holes and outs and prolong the potential (and sometimes essential) compensation.

To help & support victim’s rights you can log on to on www.cancervictimsrights.org now and sign up to TAKE ACTION.

Also write your congressmen & women and let them know you have SIGNED THE PETITION.

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Larry Davis Memorial Grant

Hegmans, Joost - Larry Davis Memorial GrantMacrophage recruitment/polarization as a prognostic and therapeutic target

Hegmans, Joost – Larry Davis Memorial Grant
Macrophage recruitment/polarization as a prognostic and therapeutic target

This year’s Mesothelioma Symposium, held in Las Vegas, Nevada, brought together some of the country’s finest people. Victims of the terrible disease, both the patients and the caregivers, doctors, lawyers, staffers and friends.

I admit the lead-up to this conference brought up a lot of the pain that occurred during my father’s life and even more that came in his death. The

"Celebration of Life"

“Celebration of Life”

anxiety I felt course through me was overwhelming, but I was able to use it to fuel a fire I’d let go out during the last few months. That was the fight for justice over the people my dad left in charge to make sure his final wishes were carried out. Now I can’t say what will or won’t happen, because I don’t know. But I finally had the energy to remind a few people that I love my father with all my heart and that no matter what they try to take, I have won’t renounce that he was my dad.

This past Friday’s symposium dinner  was an amazing reminder that his energy not only flows through me but also through a foundation he worked ever so hard for. I introduced myself around to those who may or may not have remembered me saying, ‘I’m Courtney, Larry Davis’ daughter’. It was so good to see people around me who so loved and enjoyed my dad. The people who he had turned to for information initially and friendship later. Unfortunately I forgot in my moment of accepting  his award the Larry Davis Memorial Grant to sign off with what became is go to signature “Believe in a Cure, Believe in Yourself‘. I was able to get in a good deal of Thank You’s to Mary Hesdorffer for always being an amazing point person, to Erica Ruble who also lost her father to this horrible disease who has been fighting to make every day better, raise money and for being such a great friend, first to my dad, and then to me. I needed to have thanked the whole Foundation staff for what they do every day and their help in making my father’s award happen, to all the folks who donated to the annual fund, and to the people who donated in my dad’s name when he died. Fortunately I did remember, actually there was no way I would forget (!), to thank Janelle who fights the affects of Meso every day of her young life and yet looks like a beacon of happiness despite the pain, discomfort and the unknowing. Janelle raised a significant amount of money in my dad’s honor during a motorcycle ride this past fall. She is a beacon and her attitude is outstanding. I’m sure I don’t even know all of the other people who had ideas or funds that I may have overlooked,  but I do believe that one of the best assets of the Meso Foundation is it’s ability to keep bringing people into their community and working for a cure.

grouppic

… and thank you to Linda who traveled to the ends of the earth to be there for my father’s funeral.

Of course, I should also thank my aunt, uncle and boyfriend for being so supportive, even when I’m so stressed I can barely hold the tears in. It was a difficult weekend for all of us, but I believe the community made it easier.

My love to the Meso Foundation, my family and  to the loving memory of my dad, may he rest in piece.

A few other groups I’ve failed to name outright are the law firms that have helped by sponsoring my father’s 3 South Florida Miles for Meso events and helped him to pay for his medical costs by virtue of a settlement; Simmons Law, Sokolove Law, Weitz & Luxemburg, Early Ludwick Sweeney & Straus and Levy Phillips and Konigsberg.

Categories: Uncategorized

Preparing for Death – part 2

IMG (2)The one thing that I truly was not expecting when my father died, was to be almost completely cut out of the days after.

I was laying in bed tonight, tossing and turning, as happens a lot now, so I finally got up to write my story down.

Everyone who knows the me that I was when my father was alive, knows the bond we shared. I was the pal, who even at my youngest age, was the one who was always by my dad’s side. Even after he and my mom divorced he still arrived at our house to pick me up … and was amazingly prompt and always happy to see me. We’d drive to his place with me on the armrest of his Buick, seated right next to him, listening to my Disney tapes or Kenney Rogers. As I grew, some nights we’d share a bag of sour cream and onion Lay’s potato chips and watch the Muppets, that turned into Knight Rider, that turned into Dukes of Hazzard … and generally a race day and sometimes even a Red Sox game and through high school, turned into a lot of my games.

IMG_0005So when he said, some 30 years later, that he was getting married again, I was overjoyed … for him. Not for me. As my friends and family will tell you, the Mrs. didn’t like me (or the family, or the friends). It was a nearly impossible time. The new pair didn’t invite me to the one daughter’s wedding, which maybe was the step-sister’s choice. And just before he died, they took a trip to Boston where I’d lived my weekends with him, watched him and my cousins all run the Boston Marathon, where we went to games and races – our home away from home – and I wasn’t even included.

But I never, ever, ever thought that when my father was gone from this world, that I would be an outsider at his funeral and to his wishes.

When dad died, I was on a plane headed to see him. I spent the weekend at our place – in Newport RI. He’d been taking me there since before I can remember.  I’d made that choice because I hadn’t seen my family since Christmas and we have the best opportunity to get together in Rhode Island, only an hour or so from where I grew up. There are hundreds, if not thousands of memories from there. Like the year he bought me a $500 car and while he was heading up there with his nephew, my cousin, the engine went! Fortunately I had his car and couldn’t be blamed for  the mishap. Or the years before they put the fencing under the condo and we could run right down to the water. Or the year I got my kite stuck in the lamp light. We used to spend hours on the point flying the best kites.groupnewport Then there was the year my college friends all came down. We all, including dad, had a blast! Although the year we went to look a a family grave site in Connecticut wasn’t all that fun. But as I was saying, I was headed to see him the morning I was told he died. However, in just re-reading an email from November it seems as though a friend of his was told he died that evening … so why would I get a voice message halfway to Florida that my father was dead?

Whatever the reason or maybe the mix-up, I got a voice mail saying my father died while I was flying, or just before I was flying, and that I should turn around and go back to Rhode Island. It was horrible. I had no idea what to do. Would you go to a place where you were clearly not welcome? I was trying to be respectful and yet, it was not a respectful request.

IMG_0005But I did what I thought was right, as I always had, to protect my father. I should have told my father about her upfront. But I didn’t and that is on me. So now I have to live with all that has happened since … he told me and his family that he had worked on a Will. She and the lawyer say there isn’t one. Always, always make sure you know where it is to be held. Don’t have faith in people or in the system, have faith in yourself. This is the single best thing anyone can do to save themselves a lot of hurt and trouble. When things go ‘missing’ and there’s only one person who can make that happen, like the American flag that finally found it’s way to my home 6 months after dad died, you can only blame yourself. Dad told me to find it, and I couldn’t. I was removed for cleaning up his office, even though I was always the one to do this task, from the time I was small. I never believed that when he died, greed (or possibly entitlement?) would take over in her.

I tried to call my dad’s wife when I finally made it back to Rhode Island and drove home to North Carolina. I only got voicemail. She never returned that call to tell me when she’d be holding the funeral. I wasn’t included in that either. Even as his only heir, in her eyes I obviously had no rights. I’d written an obituary, instead she had her son-in-law write one … and his age was wrong. He died a few days shy of his 67th birthday. My mom found his obituary and funeral arrangements online before I got the generic group email of when the service would be.

The true betrayal is that the place I wrote about earlier, the one in Rhode Island, was the only thing I had asked for in his death. It was our place. The one placeOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA I would still be able to go to, that I had with him almost all my life. The place we shared before her. Very much like the places she had before him, I would never dream of taking them from her. She and her lawyer, who my father phoned multiple times and sent emails to regarding the deeds, have completely ignored my one request and my father’s obvious wish. I’ve basically been blocked from her home, wasn’t even invited there after the funeral, had never been invited to the place my father re-vamped for her in California, will never see his car, computers (that I maintained for him), the sailboat, the bank account with the Meso settlement checks coming in, she liked the iPhone cover I got him, so that didn’t come back, the 2 vintage  cars he financed almost complete overhauls on, and the time in Newport. I’m not saying I didn’t get anything. My grandmother started something that my father continued and that I now have, and to me, that legacy is incredible and I am grateful. I’m so grateful that was done outside of good faith. And I believed. It was our FAMILY place. She doesn’t want our family but she feels it’s within her rights to our place.

Like I wrote in Part 1, Preparing for the Death of a Loved One, have conversations. Follow up. And don’t leave anything you want to hold onto to chance. Death brings out terrible things. I’ve heard about it and seen it before. I just thought that since she and the lawyer, both had his wishes in writing, that they would have executed them when he asked and when he was alive. It doesn’t work like that. People are lazy, they are busy and they lie. Don’t let it happen to you. Talk.  Decide. Get the paperwork.

And yet the attorney didn't do this then or when we called him in the last weeks and days of dad's life.

And yet the attorney didn’t do this then or when we called him in the last weeks and days of dad’s life.

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