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:  http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1202429181114

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:  http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/documents/A120912.PDF

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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:

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/mass_tort_litigation/2009/02/the-southwester.html

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Asbestos manufacturer seeks bail-out state-by-state

Almost under cover of darkness, Crown Cork & Seal is seeking state laws to limit its liability for the acquisition of Mundet Corporation, one of the country's largest manufacturers of thermal asbestos containing insulation in 1963.  CC&S has always attempted to fight liability for this purchase (see http://www.answers.com/topic/john-conway) but many courts across the country have ruled otherwise.

Unable to get victories in court, CC&S is seeking to "back door" these policies in smaller states like South Dakota and North Dakota.  If you live in these locations, please call your representatives and tell them, no bail-outs for polluters and companies who shirk their responsibilities and duties.

For more on CC&S and other asbestos manufacturers, go to http://www.paulandhanley.com.

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Companies: Think twice before you downsize

This excellent article lays out the pros and cons of layoffs — more con than pro.  Employers who have brains and hearts should think twice before simply throwing bodies out the door:

http://www.portfolio.com/resources/insight-center/2009/02/01/The-Hidden-Costs-of-Layoffs?PMID=alsoin/The-Hidden-Costs-of-Layoffs

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Widow beats Phillip Morris in landmark tobacco verdict

Friday the 13th was not a lucky day for Phillip Morris — widow Ellen Hess won a landmark verdict in the first of 8000 test cases brought against Phillip Morris for tobacco-caused lung cancer.  Mrs. Hess proved that her husband was addicted to smoking and could not quit, and jurors held Phillip Morris responsible for causing his addiction.

This case is a landmark victory because Phillip Morris won an earlier appeal throwing out a class action verdict in favor of dead and dying smokers.  In that case, the Florida Supreme Court found that each and every single smoker must sue Phillip Morris and prove their case individually.  Sadly, this will mean each person who has had a loved one die must endure a trial against Phillip Morris, who refuses to pay any verdict without appealing to every possible court, a process that has taken decades. 

 

For more, go to:

http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601103&sid=a8as_Yq4AY3U&refer=us

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Asbestos in telecommunications equipment

Working late tonight researching the uses of asbestos in telephone communications equipment.  It is a little known fact that the central offices were often laced with asbestos in the equipment and the construction materials.  Even the floors were asbestos-containing vinyl floor tile and those were drilled in daily to install and move equipment.  I have successfully represented telephone communications workers, and hope we can get the word out to more of these dedicated folks so that they can insist on the removal of these materials from their workplace.

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