Tobacco company considers a $13.8 million dollar punitive damages verdict a victory

Today, August 25, 2009, a Los Angeles jury awarded Jodie Bullock, daughter of Betty Bullock $13.8 million dollars in punitive damages for the death of her mother from cigarettes.

Her mother, Betty Bullock was awarded $850,000 in compensatory damages and $28 billion in punitive damages in 2002 in a landmark decision in California.  She died a year later.  An appellate court threw out the decision based on changes made by the conservative Bush U.S. Supreme Court in the law of punitive damages.

Another blow to the Bullock family is that when a person dies in California before their lawsuit is finalized, the value of the case decreases significantly as certain categories of damages die with the person.  This has resulted in a macabre game where enormous teams of defense firm law lawyers fight with all they have to stall cases until a person dies. 


Persons with lung cancer caused by cigarette smoking cannot file class actions in California, and are also faced with numerous other legal restrictions on their lawsuits.  Tobacco claimants face years in court on appeal, as nearly every single judgment and verdict is appealed for many years by the cigarette makers. 

For more on this verdict and the many years of litigation on this single case, click on the following links: (interim appellate court ruling) (trial testimony of Betty Bullock)

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NIH official convicted of lying regarding asbestos

Recently, an NIH official and physician was convicted of moonlighting for asbestos manufacturers while still in his role at the National Institutes for Health.  The details are at:



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Widow wins right to sue FMC for failing to warn her husband of asbestos risk

A Wisconsin resident earned the right to sue FMC Corp. for its failure to warn her husband of the potential risks of terminal cancer.  Her husband died in 2004 from malignant mesothelioma, an incurable cancer caused by asbestos exposure.  For more on the story, read:,0,5181046.story

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Prisoners allowed to sue for asbestos exposure at Leavenworth Prison

A federal appeals court has revived a lawsuit filed by a former inmate of Leavenworth Prison for asbestos exposure.  Asbestos was confirmed to be at the prison in 1994, but Smith claims he was exposed to asbestos by the prison in 2003.  The appeals court said that the Byron Smith should have the chance to prove that the prison warden and his staff were aware or should have been aware of its presence in 2003 before negligently exposing inmates to the asbestos. 

For more see:

Carolin K. Shining
Trial lawyer for workers

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California legislature to consider banning all class actions. All.

As their own greed lays them low, AIG and its Wall Street accomplices are scurrying for cover by backing AB 298 (Tran), which would shield them from accountability for their malfeasance and eliminate class action lawsuits in California.

Take action NOW to defeat this assault on consumer rights.

The main backer of AB 298 is the Civil Justice Association of California (CJAC), a front group for AIG and large banks which have received billions in taxpayer bail-outs. CJAC also represents oil, tobacco, drug, insurance and auto companies — all of which seek to evade justice by restricting consumers' rights to sue them for their wrongdoing.

This is nothing new for AIG and its former chairman, Hank Greenberg, who have been perhaps the largest funders of the effort to restrict access to federal and state courts, giving $25 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for legal "reform" and to limit regulation.

AB 298 will be heard on Tuesday, March 31st!

Please contact your California Assemblymember RIGHT NOW to defeat this bill.

Thank you!

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Contact Sri Lankan Officials to stop asbestos factory in crowded Columbo Beach suburb

Chris Dharmakirti sent a message to the members of BAN ASBESTOS USE IN SRI LANKA AND SARC REGION on Facebook:

Subject: Please help by writing to the sri lankan newspapers about the proposed asbestos factory on templers

We need all our friends to wage a "letters to the editor" campaign asking the local municipal authorities and the board of investment to stop the proposed construction of an asbestos factory on templers road mt lavinia, one of the most populated residential areas of colombo's beach suburb.  Please do write to your local papers about the risk of locating a factory with outdated equipment and little or no pollution control and ther poor handling of asbestos materials.   You may use information gleaned from our factsheets on this group site to boslter your argument.  Please write to the local business commmunity leaders too, including the chamber of commerce and others about this.  Thank you.

Chris Dharmakirti

To reply to this message, follow the link below:

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Chrysler is not entitled to force autopsy of man killed by asbestos, Court rules

In a landmark ruling, a New Jersey court has found that asbestos-manufacturers Chrysler and Honeywell (aka Bendix) are not entitled to force the family of a man killed by asbestos cancer to undergo an autopsy. 

Asbestos manufacturers have often sought to force autopsies, but have had their requests turned down nearly universally because of the right of privacy and religious believes of the deceased and his or her family.  This case was unique as Chrysler appealed the lower court ruling. 

One wonders how much money Chrysler, which has cut over 25,000 jobs in the past two years and struggled with collapsing sales, spent on fighting the plaintiffs' family to force an autopsy…

For a complete report, see:

If you or a loved one is fighting an asbestos diseased, call me at 213-689-3278 to discuss your rights and legal options.

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Court disqualifies large law firm from asbestos insurance litigation

In a complex ruling, the 1st Appellate District ruled that Sheppard Mullen, a large national law firm, cannot represent an asbestos claimant committee due to earlier representation in a lawsuit between Kelly Moore (makers of Paco asbestos-containing drywall muds) and Union Carbide (a fiber mining and supply company).  This case represents a step away from recent court rulings liberalizing conflicts law and permitting the use of "chinese walls" to segregate lawyers working on different issues and from different offices. 

You can read the opinion for 60 days at:

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New asbestos symposium stirs the pot, but offers no solutions

The Southwestern Law School recently sponsored a symposium on asbestos litigation.  Unfortunately, most of the articles published are a screed for a handful of insurance carriers and defense litigators seeking to end the litigation and keep the victims of asbestos poisoning from getting their day in court.  Here is the link, but caveat emptor.  Note:  One particularly misleading set of articles was funded by the "Coalition for Litigation Justices, Inc."  This is a group funded by the tobacco industry and asbestos defense lobbyists and their concept of "justice" means that injured people cannot sue them for wrongdoing:

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