On September 17, 2012, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that Kazan Law was instrumental in advocating. A significant triumph for organizations that seek justice for consumers and workers, AB 1875 places limits on how long a deposition may take.
Deposition abuse – extending depositions of victims for days on end – has been a problem not only for those suffering from asbestos-related diseases, but also for others who may be enduring similar situations. AB 1875 now limits victims’ depositions of ill and dying victims, including those dying from asbestos, to two days of seven hours each, for a total of fourteen hours. Exceptions can be made if a judge decides that more time is absolutely necessary.
Kazan Law has witnessed many appalling instances of deposition abuse in our nearly 40 years fighting for asbestos victims. Our clients and those represented by other lawyers have been made to endure marathon depositions from defense attorneys that sadly ended with tragic consequences. Consider these cases as examples of victims who could have been protected with AB 1875:
John Tommaney’s doctors told him that the mesothelioma would not respond to radiation or chemotherapy and that hospice care should be arranged. In our direct-examination deposition, Mr. Tommaney shared all of his pertinent knowledge about his life and imminent death in testimony lasting just four hours. The defense attorneys’ cross-examination went on to prolong questioning for more than 26 hours over a span of 22 days. On the 23rd day, his attorney informed the defendants, “Mr. Tommaney is unavailable for deposition today as he died last night.”
Mesothelioma victim John Johnson was aggressively deposed for 25 hours over the course of 41 days while his health drastically declined. Less than one hour after his last deposition session, Mr. Johnson was rushed to the hospital, where he died. In his medical records, the diagnosis is listed as “sudden cardiac arrest while giving a courtroom deposition.”
Bob Thacker did not live long enough to see his day in court. Mr. Thacker passed away after 22 days of deposition, most of which was repetitive and pointless. Unfortunately, Mr. Thacker’s survivors did not have the same legal rights after he died, and his death prevented the responsible party from being held fully accountable.
California Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D – Burbank) is the author of AB 1875, which was introduced on February 22, 2012, and passed the full California Legislature. The Consumer Attorneys of California was the official sponsor of the legislation.
In our efforts to pass AB 1875, Kazan Law staff met with members of the California Legislature in both the Assembly and Senate and urged their support of the bill. Kazan clients wrote letters to their State Senators also urging their support. All Democratic State Senate Members, except Juan Vargas, voted for the bill. All Republican State Senate Members, except for two abstentions, voted against protecting asbestos victims.