Posts Tagged ‘asbestos’

Asbestos roundup

“Smoker dies of lung cancer, family wins $12.5M after blaming asbestos”

“The family of a man who claimed his lung-cancer death was caused by asbestos exposure was awarded $12.5 million by a Manhattan jury — despite the fact that he smoked two packs of cigarettes a day.” Defendant Caterpillar Tractor probably won’t be on the hook for the full amount since the jury found the late George Cooney, a New Jersey resident, partly responsible for his own injury. [New York Post]

“Law firm ‘bonuses’ tied to political donations”

After initially resisting, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has agreed to return nearly $130,000 in donations she and her PAC received from the Boston-based Thornton Law Firm, known for asbestos plaintiff’s litigation. An investigation found the law firm paid $1.4 million in bonuses in patterns strongly suggesting they were being used to cover “straw donations” nominally from partners [co-published Boston Globe/Open Secrets story; New York Post]

From 2010 through 2014, Strouss and Bradley along with founding partner Michael Thornton and his wife donated nearly $1.6 million to Democratic party fundraising committees and a parade of politicians from Senate minority leader Harry Reid of Nevada to Hawaii gubernatorial candidate David Ige to Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Over the same span, the lawyers received $1.4 million listed as “bonuses” in Thornton Law Firm records; more than 280 of the contributions precisely matched bonuses that were paid within 10 days.

That payback system, which involved other partners as well, helped make Thornton the 11th-ranked law firm nationally for political contributions in 2014, according to data analyzed by the Center, even though the firm is not among the 100 biggest in Massachusetts, much less the U.S.

Capitol Hill recipients of Thornton money include many figures who have played a role in blocking asbestos litigation reform, including Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.).

Litigation roundup

  • Settlement insurance, a new litigation-finance mechanism, can have the unintended result of casting light on just how little benefit some class actions provide to consumers [Ted Frank, CEI] Yet another new litigation finance mechanism: trial-expense insurance purchased by lawyers [Bloomberg/Insurance Journal]
  • South Carolina law firm sues 185 different defendants in the average asbestos case it files, and it’s still far from tops in that department [Palmetto Business Daily]
  • “Those terms and conditions (that nobody reads) could cost New Jersey retailers” [Tim Darragh, NJ.com on class actions under pre-Internet-era state consumer protection law]
  • Some federal courts, while paying lip service to the important Rule 26 discovery reforms that took effect Dec. 1, continue in their old ways, “effectively applying the old standard” [James Beck]
  • “Can Pokémon Go and Product Liability Coexist?” [Julie Steinberg, BNA/Product Safety & Liability Reporter, earlier]
  • “How does privatization affect liability?” [Sasha Volokh]

Liability roundup

Liability roundup

  • Cohen Milstein contracts with attorney general on opioid claims: “New Hampshire’s fleet of private pirate lawyers” [editorial, Manchester Union-Leader] Transparency in Private Attorney Contracting (TiPAC) legislation would help [Tiger Joyce] New Louisiana AG Jeff Landry cancels Buddy Caldwell contracts with outside law firms [Louisiana Record] States with governor-appointed AGs have seen fewer scandals than the majority in which the post is elected [Phil Goldberg, RCP]
  • Judge declines to dismiss Newtown families’ suit against rifle maker Remington Arms, PLCAA notwithstanding [Connecticut Post] Sandy Hook gun lawsuit “almost surely won’t succeed, nor should it.” [USA Today editorial] More: David French [extremely narrow ruling went to jurisdiction only, PLCAA as bar to recovery explicitly not at issue]
  • Sen. Dick Durbin, long a guardian of trial lawyer interests, leads opposition to federal bill on transparency in asbestos claims [Illinois Business Daily]
  • Judge tosses one wrongful death suit against Porsche over Paul Walker crash, another still pending [EOnline, earlier] GM ignition bellwether trials going exceptionally badly for plaintiffs as judge dismisses all but one claim in spun-out-on-black-ice case [Daniel Fisher]
  • Litigation destroys business confidentiality and that’s by design [Steve McConnell, Drug and Device Law]
  • “Justice Scalia’s Product Liability Legacy” [Anand Agneshwar and Emily M. May (Arnold & Porter), Lexology]
  • After State Farm defeats hailstorm claim, judge threatens to sanction Texas attorney Steve Mostyn [Southeast Texas Record]

Garlock asbestos bankruptcy settlement

The case famous for helping crack open some of the secrets of the asbestos litigation business has reached a settlement, which will apparently include a settlement (probably without admission of wrongdoing) of civil RICO claims against several law firms. The revelations in the Garlock bankruptcy helped to bolster evidence that “some victims and their lawyers tell one story in one venue and another someplace else to ‘double dip’ the system” in cases against separate defendants. [Sara Warner, National Courts Monitor/Huffington Post; earlier]

March 16 roundup

Liability roundup