Friable Thoughts

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Backfiring Ads

Did a few TV ads in Alabama sway Senator Sessions' vote on the asbestos trust fund? Not according to him. He did admit he got about 115 phone calls about the issue though he claims they were evenly split on the issue. Interesting that the Senate Accountability Project focused their ads in states with Republican senators that supported the bill rather than in states with Democratic senators that supported the bill. It may have been better to have given the money to FreedomWorks and let them lean on the Republican senators from the right... assuming they'd take money from trial lawyers.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Silicosis Cases Go West

Just when we thought the silicosis cases were gone from the Golden State, those darn Texas lawyers are back. Seems Texas isn't the lawsuit haven it used to be but even California plaintiff's lawyers are concerned that the newly arrived Texans might give them a bad rep. And, you really got to sink real low to get below the reputation of an asbestosis plaintiff's lawyer.

What with the initial doctors trying to avoid grand juries for less-than-reliable diagnosis (who would've thought you actually had to see someone to diagnose an illness?), the Texans may have a harder time than they thought.

Just a thought for our Texans and the California lawyers that may partner up with them: start with the serious (i.e. meritorious) cases first, win a few big verdicts and then you can go for the volume filings. Otherwise, you look like those lawyers that filed unfair competition lawsuits a couple of years ago and no one wants to look like them.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Defense Verdicts in Madison County

Madison County has a reputation of being a plaintiff's haven for asbestos cases. Perhaps times are a changin'. A jury actually handed down a defense verdict in a mesothelioma case. In fact, before that happened, the judge almost dismissed the case characterizing the plaintiff's evidence as "weak". So, hat's off to the defense counsel for the prevailing defendant, General Electric and the other defendant, John Crane, who actually got a dismissal. Now, if they could just work their magic in San Francisco and Alameda counties.

Jury reaches verdict in favor of General Electric
Jury rejects asbestos claim

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Counting Heads on the Asbestos Trust Fund

Hope you all had a great Memorial Day weekend. I’m sure a lot of you were taken by surprise by the quick vote on the asbestos bill. I was too. I figured they couldn’t go through all those amendments in such short time. I forgot that most of those amendments probably came from senators who would’ve opposed the bill anyway so Specter and Leahy focused on the amendments from senators on the committee that they ended up getting and told Senator Durbin to jump in a lake and Senator Kennedy to go have another drink...and then jump in a lake. I am surprised that Senator Kohl went along with the bill.

However, much of this resembles what happened last year though whether the Democrats can muster a filibuster this time remains an open question. They have 44 senators and three (Leahy, Kohl and our very own Dianne Feinstein) already appear to support the bill. If they have independent Jim Jeffords with them, then they can afford to lose only one more vote. Wheel and deal for Libby residents and perhaps you can get Senator Baucus of Montana? Point out to the two Michigan senators that GM, Ford and the UAW support the bill and perhaps Stabenow or Levin may change their minds from last year.

Not to be a complete downer, but there are Republicans that have a problem with the bill. I doubt they would filibuster the bill given all the frustration that they have had with the Dems use of the procedure. However, if Specter can’t placate them, who knows how many of them could cross the aisle and bring down the bill. And, the House looks like it may not follow the Senate’s lead because the only bill there so far is a medical criteria bill.

But, all this is speculation. Someone analogized all this to steering a ship in a minefield during a hurricane. And, they would be right. Much can happen this summer. It should be an exciting ride.

Senate panel OKs asbestos trust fund bill