Friable Thoughts

Friday, October 21, 2005

Vote on US asbestos bill seen in early '06-Specter

It seems the other business in DC: the Mier's confirmation, Katrina relief and all those spending bills, has delayed the trust fund bill until next year. I guess this means I kind of win my bet with some of the other asbestos counsel when I predicted we'd still be in business a year after the 2004 presidential elections. If any of them moved to New Zealand like they said they would, I won't be able to collect.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Blood test may detect asbestos-related lung cancer

Doctors now can detect mesothelioma early or earlier than before by looking for the protein osteopontin in the blood. Hopefully, that makes earlier treatment possible but the study was still unsure if that would help. From a defense lawyer's perspective, it means the possibility of more living personal injury cases and fewer wrongful death cases which might mean more work on our part but, hopefully, we'll be deposing fewer folks on death's door.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Geography is a factor in asbestos-related cancer

A sobering thought for those living in the El Dorado area of California. Now it appears that exposure to naturally recurring asbestos may increase your chance for getting mesothelioma. Of course, studies can be wrong but for asbestos plaintiffs in California, expect to get more questions about everywhere you lived.

Read the article (registration required)

Monday, October 17, 2005

Conflicts of Interest Put End to Congoleum's Pre-Packaged Bankruptcy Plan

Well, the Third Circuit has decided to clamp down on the "business as usual" on pre-packaged asbestos bankruptcies. Last week, it held that a bankrupt company couldn't hire a plaintiff's law firm to represent it in bankruptcy in pursuing claims against the company's insurance carriers where that firm had sued the company. The court held that the insurance companies for Congoleum had a large enough stake to have standing to challenge the designation as plaintiff's firm as special insurance counsel and, since counsel had previously filed claims against Congoleum in asbestos cases, that was sufficient to constitute a conflict of interest.

Read the opinion here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

California-Texas Discovery Two-Step

This recent unpublished decision in California will cause all sorts of gamesmanship in asbestos litigation. A court found admissible a deposition taken under Texas law even though the plaintiff's lawyers intentionally noticed the deposition under Texas law to prevent discovery that would have been available under California law. Probably a rare incident where the California law is more favorable to defendants than Texas.

Thankfully, the decision is unpublished but it will still encourage plaintiff's counsel to engage in this type of behavior, especially if they have a witness who may be dying. Of course, as a defense lawyer, I always think that plaintiff's lawyers that try to hide things usually have something to hide. So, I might just try harder to work up a case where opposing counsel would try a stunt like this.