Here at Kazan Law, we’ve been known as an asbestos law firm for over 40 years. Our asbestos lawsuits often go to the California Supreme Court and help establish new legal precedents in asbestos litigation. But a rising tide, as the saying goes, lifts all boats. So it helps us as an asbestos law firm and our clients, when higher courts issue decisions in other states that thwart the attempts by major multinational corporations to get away with murder.
In a recent asbestos lawsuit decision reported in the Wall Street Journal and other media, a U.S. federal appeals court in Newark, New Jersey reinstated charges of fraud and fraud concealment not only against a major international chemical company but against the law firm who represented them.
A group of plaintiffs – representatives of alleged asbestos victims — claimed that the company and their attorneys at that time destroyed or hid evidence of asbestos-contaminated products in order to dodge liability.
The three judges on the appeals panel, reversed a decision by the US District Court in Newark, New Jersey and, in a unanimous ruling, said that although New Jersey’s litigation privilege often immunizes lawyers and clients from recrimination based on their statements in judicial proceedings, the privilege cannot be used to “shield systemic fraud directed at the integrity of the judicial process.”
In other words, the judges realized that the cruel deceptions in this case were not only ploys to get the chemical company off the hook for compensating those whose lives they destroyed but that these tactics threatened the very validity of our country’s judicial process itself.
The Third U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decision overturned a lower court judge who dismissed a pending class action suit. The suit was brought against a division of BASF, a chemical company and their New York attorneys. BASF Corporation, headquartered in New Jersey, is the North American affiliate of BASF SE, Ludwigshafen, Germany. BASF has nearly 17,000 employees in North America, and had sales of $19.3 billion in 2013, according to the company’s website.
A company bought by BASF in 1983 allegedly claimed that talc was a safe substitute for asbestos even though laboratory reports showed talc contained asbestos. After the company settled a suit from a worker exposed to asbestos-containing talc products, it attempted to avoid further suits by allegedly rounding up and destroying documents referring to the asbestos-contaminated talc, the complaint says. Their attorneys at that time reportedly developed a defense that included allegedly false affidavits and expert reports; tactics we have seen also attempted in European asbestos cases.
A daughter of a former BASF research chemist developed mesothelioma and died. In 2009 her father testified about the existence of data, analyses and reports confirming asbestos contamination. This information supposedly disappeared but has been found by BASF’s new attorneys in a storage facility owned by BASF’s former attorneys, according to the Wall Street Journal.