West Virginia's most famous--critics say infamous-- radiologist is asking the court to let him off the hook.

Dr. Ray Harron, the man said to have made millions through his challenged asbestos illness diagnoses, wants a federal judge to dismiss a civil lawsuit against him brought by one of his alleged victims.

Rail giant CSX was typical of companies attacked by trial lawyers armed with Harron's wholesale diagnoses. But CSX turned the tables and sued the Bridgeport native in 2005, charging X-ray reports he provided to a Pittsburgh law firm -- later used to sue CSX -- were fraudulent.

Jerald Jones, Harron's lawyer, said the court should dismiss its case because CSX didn't ask for enough damages.

Federal court requires $75,000. But the x-ray in question, of alleged plaintiff Earl Baylor, couldn't have cost CSX that much money, Jones says.

Saying the client's behavior wasn't that damaging is an ironic argument for a guy the New York Times called a "vital cog" in America's multi-billion dollar absestos lawsuit machine. According to a Times report, the Bridgeport native has been paid for more than 75,000 lung injury diagnoses since the mid-1990s.

The depth of fraudulent activity may never be known. What's certain is the $70 billion -- that's $70 billion -- in litigation costs and $49 billion in damages shelled out by corporate targets of some 700,000 asbestos lawsuits over the past 30 years. And Dr. Harron apparently had his fingerprints on more than 10% of those suits.

That kind of damage to our economy, often involving the work of our West Virginia doctor, is difficult to fathom. Maybe that's why America has yet to come to grips with the enormous consequences of this asbestos lawsuit colossus; it's too much and too raw for an average person to get their arms around.

Here and elsewhere, the trial of Dr. Harron, the "vital cog," has a chance to change that. It's time for hard evidence to be aired and hard questions to be asked.

Such as who found these plaintiffs? How much was paid for the medical diagnoses? Which law firms did most of the paying? How much did those firms earn from it all?

America needs to know. And Ray Harron should help us find out.

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