John Ulizio became the CEO of U.S. Silica in 2003. That year alone, the firm got 20,000 specks of sand kicked in its face — 20,000 lawsuits insisting that the company was causing a deadly lung disease. Ulizio has been fighting back ever since.
U.S. Silica processes sand. Silica. Silicon dioxide. Grinds it so that it can be used in everything from glass to Kevlar.
Clouds of sand dust may sound like a horrifying health hazard. Maybe worse than SARS, swine flu, and psoriasis put together, judging by the spate of litigation against Ulizio’s company. But lawyers don’t necessarily need sound medical evidence to go for lawsuit gold. Sometimes they just make it up.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the harassment of U.S. Silica was even more blatant than this. After many years of costly court battles, a federal judge has concluded that that Silica was the victim of massive, unadorned fraud. Doctors involved now admit that they didn’t even see the patients allegedly suffering from the disease . . . just did what the lawyers told them. The fraud fell apart, and the frivolous lawsuits against U.S. Silica have abruptly abated.
Now vindicated, Ulizio is amazed that “finally, after all these years, somebody is seeing the truth.” Sad that we live in a world where this took so long. Lucky that it’s a world with folks like John Ulizio.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.