Asbestos Lawyer Aiding Italians In Wake Of Billionaire's Conviction
Meisenkothen told the Law Tribune that the only response he's gotten to the letter thus far is from Levin in an e-mail, who noted that he was no longer president of the school and that he had forwarded his letter along to President Salovey.
A Yale spokesman, Thomas Conroy, said the university did not have a comment about the letter yet, "as it was only received recently." But in a statement released after Schmidheiny's conviction but prior to the receipt of Meisenkothen's letter, the university acknowledged the degree given to the billionaire for his "advocacy of sustainable economic growth and development."
"The decision to award this degree was made by a committee that considered Mr. Schmidheiny's full record as a philanthropist who used his wealth to fund sustainable development in Latin America and elsewhere, and a path-breaking international advocate of change in the way businesses address environmental sustainability, as well as a businessman who inherited and dismantled a decades-old family asbestos processing concern," read the statement.
"Yale does not believe that the ongoing legal proceedings in Italy provide cause to reconsider the judgment made by the committee in 1996. Yale has never revoked an honorary degree, and any decision to do so would have to be made by the Yale Corporation, which is the body that confers degrees. Yale has revoked a degree previously awarded only when there has been academic or other fraud."
Meisenkothen said this case illustrates one of the more disastrous examples of the harm that asbestos has caused.
"The plant in Casale was still using tons of crocidolite asbestos in 1981, the type of asbestos that had long been recognized as the most potent type for causing mesothelioma," said Meinsenkothen. "It's an extremely dangerous mineral that has been responsible for as many as 16 to 18 percent of all deaths in some other occupational groups that worked with it. The scope of the harm caused by the plant in Casale is so widespread that it really stands out as a particularly egregious example of the tragic legacy of asbestos."
Meisenkothen said there were documented cases of mesothelioma in the Italian town by family members of workers at the manufacturing plant and even people who just lived near the plant. "There are few other locations around the world where so many deaths and so much environmental contamination has been caused by a single source of asbestos," Meisenkothen said.•