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The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection has fined a New Jersey medical screening company $80,500 for X-raying potential silicosis plaintiffs at three Pennsylvania motel parking lots without prior written authorization or the presence of a licensed medical practitioner. The fine against Most Health Services Inc. of Voorhees, N.J., which the company already has appealed, stems from allegations raised in silica litigation in Pennsylvania state court that plaintiffs’ counsel-in this instance, Provost & Umphrey of Beaumont, Texas-improperly built its Pennsylvania silica practice through mass screenings for claimants. In re Silica PCCP, March Term 2003 No. 0001 (Philadelphia Co., Pa., Ct. C.P.).Guy Fisher, the attorney at Provost & Umphrey to whom calls for comment were referred, was not available for comment. But Charles B. Kemeny, president of Most Health, said that the state and silica defense bar have unfairly singled out his company, which provides a range of health screening programs and other services to industry, labor organizations and government entities nationwide from mobile screening units. X-rays that Most Health took in Pennsylvania while screening for asbestosis were sent uninterpreted to Provost & Umphrey, which, in turn, had them read by others for silicosis, Kemeny said. He admitted that those X-rays were taken without the state-required prescriptions, though the company since has changed this practice. Nathan A. Schachtman, an attorney in the Philadelphia office of Newark, N.J.-based McCarter & English who represents U.S. Silica Co. of Berkeley Springs, W.Va., in the Pennsylvania litigation, said that mass screenings for silicosis produced such a large volume of claims that many thought it would become “the next asbestos.” But U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack in Corpus Christi, Texas, who took a close look at the 10,000 cases transferred to her as a federal multidistrict litigation, said in an advisory memorandum in June 2005 that most of the claims were without merit. An element of Jack’s finding was that a large number of asbestos claimants later also made silicosis claims. The defense calls these “double dippers.” In the Pennsylvania silica litigation, 65% of the plaintiffs had made prior asbestosis claims, Schachtman said. Jack’s memorandum led to the dismissal of the majority of cases she remanded, most originating in Mississippi state courts. http://pdfserver.amlaw.com/nlj/silica%20defense%20memo.pdf http://pdfserver.amlaw.com/nlj/silica%20defense%20summary%20judgment%20motion%20.pdf

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