Friable Thoughts

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

US Senate debate on asbestos to open Feb 6

Specter confirms recent speculation that this will be the first item on the agenda when the Senate comes back from recess. As strange as it may seem, many of the issues they thought would be "resolved" in 2003, 2004 and 2005 still appear to be in dispute. Some aren't too thrilled with the medical criteria. Others claim the fund isn't big enough. It seems every interest group has a gripe about the bill.

Normally, the "screw'em all" approach might indicate a fair bill but most of these gripes go to the heart of the purpose of the bill: adequately compensating legitimate claims, excluding bogus claims all while staying solvent and being more cost efficient than resorting to the courts. I don't expect amendments on the Senate floor to be more effective than the three years of horse trading in committee but, we'll see in the next few months.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Asbestos bill headed for Senate floor: analyst

According to a research group, debate on the trust fund bill could start in three weeks. Frist claims he has enough votes to bring the bill to the floor. Does that mean he has enough to merely pass the bill or break a filibuster? Or, could it be more posturing? I guess we'll know in three weeks or so.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Asbestos clients sue Florida Bar for millions

Clients of a former plaintiff's lawyer are suing the Florida State Bar for their settlement money. It appears their lawyer didn't forward the settlement funds. Kind of an eye-opener for a defense lawyer. We always thought the plaintiff's lawyers were rolling in dough, at least the partners. Is one-third too little?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Judge denies venue change for W.R. Grace

The W.R. Grace executives will be tried on Montana after all. Seems Montana is a big enough state to find an impartial jury. Not everyone lives in Libby, after all.

Monday, January 09, 2006

New Disease Won't Relate Back in Kentucky

Kentucky is a "one disease" state for asbestos claims. Sue once, can't sue again even if your asbestosis becomes lung cancer or mesothelioma. Now, if you sue for one disease, better sue all your defendants then because you won't be able to sue new defendants if you get another disease if the statute of limitations has run out for the first. This, according to the opinion Combs v. Albert Kahn & Assoc., Inc.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Premises Defendants Lose One in California

The California Supreme Court held recently in KINSMAN v. UNOCAL CORP. that a premises owner may still be liable to an employee of an independent contractor even if the premises owner did not actively commit a negligent act or control the working conditions if 1) the premises owner knew or should have known there was a dangerous condition; 2) the contractor could not have discovered the danger and 3) the premises owner did not disclose the dangerous condition to the contractor.

From a trial perspective, it sounds like a plaintiff would still have pretty far to go to nail a premises owner in an asbestos case. However, the decision makes it much harder for premises owners to get a summary judgment. Since most cases settle or get dismissed, a victory for the plaintiff's bar.