Automobile and commercial truck components manufacturer ArvinMeritor seems to believe that it should not be held accountable for its actions. Fortunately, the justice system believes otherwise. As I previously reported, an Alameda County jury found ArvinMeritor liable for punitive damages for its wrongful conduct in exposing workers to asbestos. As it upheld the punitive damages award, the appellate court noted that the evidence was clear —“ArvinMeritor’s conduct continued over many years, and evinced an indifference to or reckless disregard of the health and safety of [workers] and those similarly situated.”
More recently, ArvinMeritor intentionally ignored a court’s order and filed a frivolous motion, without legal or factual support, in an attempt to burden two plaintiffs as they sought justice through the legal system. A steadfast local judge, the Honorable Jo-Lynne Q. Lee, denied ArvinMeritor’s motion and fined ArvinMeritor’s counsel, national defense law firm Hawkins Parnell Thackston & Young LLP, for advancing a meritless position.
ArvinMeritor’s request would have increased the financial and time burden on the plaintiffs and their counsel. ArvinMeritor also represented to Judge Lee that its position was justified by the facts of the case and the law. Neither was true, and Judge Lee quickly and appropriately responded. She concluded that “ArvinMeritor’s position was not substantially justified” and ordered Hawkins Parnell to pay the plaintiffs monetary sanctions for their time opposing the motion.
Even though Hawkins Parnell knew it was clearly wrong, ArvinMeritor’s counsel disregarded the law and moved forward with the motion, wasting the Court’s and the plaintiff’s time. The Court is applauded for reminding corporate defendants and their counsel that such actions will not go unpunished