Plymouth lawyers join elite set of asbestos case specialists

TWO Plymouth solicitors have been nationally accredited as asbestos disease specialists by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).
Partner James Walsh and associate lawyer John Messham both work for North Hill-based Wolferstans.

They are among just 15 lawyers nationally, and only ones west of Bristol, awarded this specialist qualification for asbestos disease litigation.
This accreditation scheme, running now for 15 years, confirms lawyers have achieved a high standard of expertise, competence and excellence in dealing with mesothelioma- and asbestos-related disease litigation.
"James and John should be congratulated as applicants must prove themselves before becoming accredited," said APIL president John Spencer.
"People who have sustained injuries because someone else did not take proper care are already vulnerable, especially so when asbestos has been involved.
"The APIL accreditation shows who they can trust and who is an expert in this specialised area of law."
Mr Walsh and Mr Messham have also been appointed as national assessors by APIL to examine and assess lawyers in other firms wanting to obtain the accreditation.
This involves a detailed audit and examination of applicants' skill in asbestos litigation.
Mr Walsh and Mr Messham have more than 50 years of combined experience dealing with asbestos-related litigation, and have dealt with hundreds of cases, recovering millions of pounds for sufferers of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases.
"Our asbestos disease team has grown in the past decade," said Mr Walsh. "John and I are proud to achieve this national recognition and will continue to offer clients and their families the care and support they deserve."

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Accurso wins $10.8M asbestos settlement

The Accurso Law Firm reached a $10.8 million settlement on behalf of the family of a former mechanic who died of mesothelioma after asbestos exposure.asbestos
The man, a former Jackson County resident and mechanic, worked for two years for a company where he was exposed to dust from friction products, such as brake pads, that contained asbestos. The name of the company is confidential as part of the settlement agreement, said Lou Accurso, who represented the man.
The plaintiff was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2012 and died three months later at age 45.
"I had an opportunity to meet the victim before he died, and he came from an unbelievable family — just wonderful people," Accurso said. "They were some of the greatest clients I've ever had the honor of representing."
Accurso said that to his knowledge, the $10.8 million settlement is the highest for a single victim in Missouri history. Previously, the record was a $10 million settlement that Accurso also helped orchestrate for the family of a Jackson County Courthouse employee who died of mesothelioma.
The biggest challenge in the case was tracking down the man's former co-workers who could testify to the working conditions.
"I knocked on doors from the day after Christmas through Valentine's Day," he said. "I finally found six of them. ... It was critical because then I had someone who could testify to his exposure to asbestos.
They described in great detail where his workspace was located, how often he did brake jobs, how often other mechanics did brake jobs, even what the asbestos dust level was like in the workplace and the total lack of safety procedures or equipment to reduce or eliminate the exposure."
Brianne covers legal affairs, health care, life sciences, animal health and biosciences.

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Texas SC agrees to rehear asbestos case against Dow

The Texas Supreme Court has set a date for oral arguments in the rehearing of an asbestos case against The Dow Chemical Co.
The case deals with the question of whether a premises defendant is liable for a contract employee’s exposure to asbestos. 10-dow-chemical-large
It originated in the Dallas County 160th District Court, and resulted in a jury verdict of $2.64 million against Dow.
When the company appealed, the jury verdict reversed in Dow’s favor in February 2013.
The plaintiffs want the case reheard, and on Nov. 21 the Texas Supreme Court granted the motion and set oral arguments for Jan. 14.
Case background
Back in 1967, Robert Wayne Henderson worked at Dow’s Freeport facility as a contractor for Win-Way Industries Inc.
Win-Way workers were installing asbestos-containing insulation on pipes, while a few feet away Dow employees were tearing off old pipe insulation and installing new insulation.
Henderson contracted mesothelioma and died, which his family blames on the asbestos exposure at the Dow facility. The family sued Dow, Alcoa Inc., Crane Co. and Hercules Inc.
They argued Henderson’s asbestos exposure did not come from the work he was doing for Win-Way, but from the asbestos dust released by the work of the Dow employees being done within feet of his work area.
Chapter 95 arguments 
After the case was filed in Dallas County, it was transferred to the Asbestos MDL in Harris County for pretrial proceedings.
In response to the suit, Dow argued that the claims against it were barred by Chapter 95 of the Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code.
Chapter 95 states that a property owner is not liable for personal injury, death or property damage to a contractor or an employee of a contractor unless it 1) retains control over the work, other than the right to order the work to start or stop or inspect progress, and 2) that the property owner had actual knowledge of the danger.
The MDL pretrial court granted summary judgment in favor of Dow on the claims that Henderson “was injured by exposure to respirable asbestos as the result of the activities of (Mr. Henderson) and/or the activities of (Mr. Henderson’s) employer on any premises of (Dow),” and denied Dow’s summary judgment motion on all other claims, including “claims that (Mr. Henderson) was injured by virtue of the activities of Dow employees.”
Henderson’s case then went back to Dallas County Judge Jim Jordan’s trial court, where a jury trial was held. The jury found Dow negligent and attributed 30 percent of the responsibility for Henderson’s injuries to Dow. They returned a $2.64 million against the company. The jury applied 70 percent of the blame to Alcoa Inc.
Dow appealed, and argued that contrary to the MDL pretrial court’s ruling, Chapter 95 “does not distinguish between a property owner’s liability for exposure caused by the activities of contractors and their employees on the one hand, and exposures caused from its own employees’ activities on the other.”
The company claimed there was no evidence at trial that Dow had both control over Henderson’s work and actual knowledge of the danger, which makes Chapter 95 apply to all of the claims against Dow. In deposition, Henderson had said that he worked for a single independent contractor and stated that Dow had no control over his work.
But the family argued that Henderson was helping insulators by mixing up insulation cement, while Dow employees were spending eight to 10 hours per week within five to 10 feet of him tearing off pipe insulation from steam lines and sawing and cutting block insulation.
They claimed that Dow substantially contributed to Henderson’s injuries by exposing him to air at its premises contaminated with asbestos dust and fibers due to the work of its employees, as opposed to work that Henderson was on the premises to perform. They said therefore Chapter 95 does not apply.
The family also argued that even if Chapter 95 does apply, Dow “would still nonetheless have owed Mr. Henderson a duty, because it exercised some control over the injury causing work since it obviously had control of its own employees.”
At trial, Dow requested a directed verdict and objected to question No. 1 on the charge of the court, which instructed the jury to “consider only the activities of the Dow Chemical employees at Dow Chemical Co. facilities.”
The question “incorrectly stated the law,” Dow argued, because any negligence claim regarding Henderson’s exposure to asbestos at Dow’s Freeport facility was subject to Chapter 95.
Additionally, Dow requested jury instructions and questions pertaining to Dow’s “control over the manner in which the work was performed” and Dow’s “actual knowledge of the danger” to Henderson. The trial court denied both of Dow’s requests.
Following the trial, Dow sought a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, but it was denied.
But when the company appealed, and the Court of Appeals for the Fifth District of Texas in Dallas found in favor of Dow on Feb. 8, 2013. It reversed the trial court’s judgment and rendered a take-nothing judgment in favor of Dow.
Petition for review
The family submitted a petition for review to the Supreme Court, which was denied May 2.
In a brief submitted to the Supreme Court on Oct. 21, the plaintiffs argued that there is a conflict between what the 5th District Appellate Court ruled in the case, and what the 14th District Appellate Court ruled in another (Oncor v Murillo).
“The Fifth Court in this case adopted a categorical rule of law that Chapter 95 applies to bar a contractor’s contemporaneous negligent activity in a claim … In contrast, the Fourteenth Court adopted the diametrically opposite rule of law based on virtually identical fact and the same statutory language.”
In short, the family argued, the conflict between the courts is “irreconcilable” unless the Supreme Court intervenes to resolve it.
Henderson’s family is now seeking a rehearing, which the Texas Supreme Court has granted.
The family is represented by Denyse F. Clancy, John Langdoc and Christine Tamer of Baron & Budd PC in Dallas.
Dow is represented by Stephen G. Tipps, Amy Pharr Hefley, David P. Herrick, Matthew Eagan and Macey Reasoner Stokes.

Trial Court Case No. DC10-007003
Appellate Case No. 05-11-01277-CV
Supreme Court Case No. 13-0175

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181 asbestos cases set for trial Dec. 1; One plaintiff is from Madison County

Of the 181 asbestos cases scheduled for trial Dec. 1 in a single Madison County courtroom, just one of the plaintiffs is from Madison County.
Plaintiff Evelyn Howland of Godfrey, who suffers from mesothelioma, filed her claim in 2011. She represents about one half of one percent of the total number of cases set for trial next week. Howland is represented by the Simmons Hanly Conroy firm in Alton.
PlotnerIt took Howland roughly three years to get her case to trial while hundreds of out-of-state claimants secured a trial position sooner.
The asbestos court prioritizes claimants’ position on the calendar based largely upon their life expectancy.
Asbestos defense attorney Kent Plotner of the Heyl Royster law firm in Edwardsville explained that a large number of cases set for trial at the end of the year is not unusual.
Throughout the year, numerous asbestos cases with prior trial settings are continued to a later date for several reasons, such as issues with depositions or scheduling. As a result, the number of cases set for trial builds up over time resulting in a heavy December trial docket.
Plotner added that it appears that a little more than 20 of the 181 cases are “first out” settings – meaning it is the first time they’re getting a trial slot. The remaining cases have been continued from previous dockets, he said.
Associate Judge Stephen Stobbs, who presides over the Madison County asbestos docket, will be responsible for managing the large number of cases on Monday.
While Plotner said the large number of cases is an added burden on parties trying to prepare for trial, he explained that attorneys have already prepared for many of the continued cases – making it easier to handle the larger number of cases set for trial the Monday after a holiday weekend.
Regardless, Plotner said the county has some work to do in reducing the number of cases set for trial.
“We want to limit the number of cases set for any given trial docket,” he said. “But we are already looking at 2016.”
Last month, defense attorney Brian Huelsmann of HeplerBroom said that as of Oct. 15, 820 first time trial settings and 254 cases continued from the 2014 trial docket have been set for 2015. That makes a total of 1,074 cases already set for trial in 2015. At that time, there were already 256 first time trial settings for 2016.
This is all in a jurisdiction where there are 30 trial weeks and 20 judges, only one of which presides over the asbestos docket.
As for the 181 cases set for trial next week, 15 plaintiffs are Illinoisans who do not reside in Madison County.
Plaintiff Frank Casale of Puerto Rico, who suffers from mesothelioma, would have to travel the farthest to attend trial. He is represented by the Simmons firm.
The vast majority of the claimants in the cases on next week’s trial docket allege mesothelioma, with five claiming lung cancer and two citing an “asbestos related disease.”
At least 164 of the 181 claimants are represented by the Simmons firm.
Gori Julian & Associates, P.C., represents at least three claimants on the docket.
Napoli Bern Ripka Shkolnik, LLP, has at least three cases.
At least two cases are Manue Raichle Hartley French & Mudd, LLC, cases.
The O’Brien law firm represents at least one claimant.
Complete information on eight of the 181 cases was not immediately available. However, none of the claimants in those cases are Madison County residents.

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Pharmaceutical and Environmental Law Firm Baron and Budd Now Accepting Power Morcellator Lawsuits

Medical Devices Linked to Increased Risk of Cancer in Women Undergoing Hysterectomies and Other Gynecological Surgeries

DALLAS--()--The national pharmaceutical law firm of Baron and Budd is now accepting cases on behalf of women who underwent hysterectomies and other gynecological surgeries and were harmed by the use of a power morcellator during their procedure. The device – which, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal, is used in between 55,000 and 75,000 hysterectomies in the U.S. per year – has been linked to an increased risk of cancer. (
“We firmly believe the fault lies with morcellator manufacturers that should have made those risks clear for both doctors and their patients.”
Power morcellators have been used in several types of hysterectomies since the 1990s. The device, which is used to cut into and then remove the uterus, is designed to be easier than other surgical alternatives. It is also designed to help patients recover faster. However, in some instances, a power morcellator can leave behind tissue fragments in a patient – if this tissue is cancerous it can allow the disease to rapidly spread. Morcellators have also been used in myomectomies, which involve the removal of non-cancerous growths known as uterine fibroids.
On April 17, 2014, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a safety communication discouraging the use of power morcellators in hysterectomies or myomectomies. According to the FDA, approximately 1 in 350 women who undergo one of these procedures have uterine sarcoma, which is a type of uterine cancer. The use of power morcellation presents a risk that cancerous tissue will be spread throughout the pelvis and abdomen and substantially lessen a patient’s chances of survival. (
“Even though the risk of using power morcellators has been known for decades, many women undergoing hysterectomies and myomectomies were unaware of the potential danger,” said Russell Budd, manager of national law firm Baron and Budd. “We firmly believe the fault lies with morcellator manufacturers that should have made those risks clear for both doctors and their patients.”
If you or a loved one underwent a hysterectomy or other gynecological procedure that involved the use of a power morcellator and were harmed as a result, you may be able to take legal action. Contact the national law firm of Baron and Budd by calling 1.866.472.9108 or sending an e-mail to learn more.
About Baron & Budd
The law firm of Baron & Budd, P.C., with offices in Dallas, Baton Rouge, Austin and Los Angeles, is a nationally recognized law firm with almost four decades of experience "Protecting What’s Right" for people, communities and businesses harmed by negligence. Baron & Budd’s size and resources enable the firm to take on exceptionally large and complex cases. The firm represents individuals, governmental and business entities in areas as diverse as PCB contamination in schools, FLSA (overtime) violations, pharmaceutical and medical implant injuries, water contamination, GM ignition problems, California Proposition 65 violations, mortgage and credit card fraud and asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma.


Baron & Budd, P.C.
Susan Knape, 214-629-0596

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