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Seven of Kazan Law’s Asbestos Lawyers Named to Super Lawyers 2014

 asbestos lawyers

Top left: Steven Kazan, David McClain, Joseph Satterley, Gordon Greenwood. Bottom left: Justin Bosl, Michael Stewart, William Ruiz

I am proud to announce that Super Lawyers, a national attorney rating service, has selected seven Kazan Law asbestos lawyers for their 2014 list:

Gordon Greenwood: Super Lawyer 2004, 2006-2014

Steven Kazan: Super Lawyer 2004-2014

David McClain: Super Lawyer 2004-2014

Joseph Satterley: Super Lawyer 2013 (Kentucky) – 2014 (California)

Super Lawyers recognizes the top up-and-coming attorneys in their Rising Stars list. The selection process for Rising Stars is the same as the Super Lawyers selection process, except to be eligible for inclusion in Rising Stars, a candidate must be either 40 years old or younger or in practice for 10 years or less. No more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the state are named to this list. We are very proud of the three Kazan Law attorneys named Rising Stars this year:

Justin Bosl: Rising Star 2011-2014

William Ruiz: Rising Star 2012-2014

Michael Stewart: Rising Star 2013-2014

Super Lawyers annually selects lawyers from top law firms from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high level of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.

The list is published in Super Lawyers Magazine which is distributed to attorneys and accredited law school libraries. The magazine is published in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., reaching more than 13 million readers. Super Lawyers also publishes the list as a supplemental special section in many city and regional magazines across the country.

Although this is not the first time we have received this prestigious recognition from our peers, each time I feel it is a privilege and an honor. This year is no exception.

When I first started my career as a personal injury lawyer, asbestos law as we know it today did not exist. There were plenty of personal injury lawyers but no asbestos lawyers. After taking on and winning one of the first asbestos cases ever in the U.S., I was gratified to realize that I had helped achieve justice for people who previously had none – victims of asbestos exposure. I knew I had found my calling.

I hung out my shingle for Kazan Law in Oakland California in 1974 and was soon joined by David McClain. Today Kazan Law is still headquartered in Oakland. Kazan, McClain, Satterley  & Greenwood now has 22 attorneys, including me.  As Kazan Law celebrates its 40th anniversary, the firm continues to excel at pursuing justice for mesothelioma victims and others exposed to asbestos.  Kazan Law daily puts its 40 years of experience in pioneering asbestos lawsuits and setting precedents to work for its clients today with the same zeal for justice as when we first started.

While we are pleased at the many accolades we have received, including this latest one from Super Lawyers, our greatest satisfaction as asbestos attorneys continues to come from helping our clients and their families receive due compensation for their suffering.

Landmark Appellate Victory In Favor of Victims of Take Home Asbestos Exposure

take home asbestos exposureIn a landmark victory decision that may offer hope for justice to all victims of take home asbestos exposure, a California court of appeal has ruled that a case of take home asbestos exposure that had been dismissed now can be reinstated and move forward to trial.

Kazan Law is pleased to announce that the court of appeal reversed a lower court’s ruling that would have dismissed a take home asbestos case against Pneumo Abex, a manufacturer of asbestos brakes, brought by Johnny Kesner, who was exposed to asbestos dust brought home from the Abex plant by his uncle, an employee there.  (Kesner v. Pneumo Abex, LLC (May 15, 2014) First Dist., Div. 3, Nos. A136378 and A136416).

Kazan Law of-counsel attorney Ted W. Pelletier joined trial counsel from the firm Weitz & Luxenberg to successfully argue the case before the Court of Appeal.

The appeal court decision is of special significance because it is the first one to limit a previous court decision that prevented the owner of a piece of property from being held liable for harmful take home asbestos exposures that resulted from the work done on the property.

That decision, Campbell v. Ford Motor Co. (2012) 206 Cal.App.4th 15, was issued in November 2012. It determined that Ford was not responsible for asbestos exposure to family members brought home on the clothes of workers installing asbestos-containing insulation while constructing a new Ford factory on the property. The workers were employed by the contractor hired to build the factory not by Ford itself.

Since then, companies successfully argued that this decision applies to them even though they do not merely own the premises but also actually cause asbestos exposure by manufacturing asbestos products or performing the work that released the asbestos dust.  Many trial courts, lacking further guidance, have applied the Campbell decision to these cases, depriving asbestos exposure victims of the right to pursue their claims against those responsible.

Kazan Law just helped change that. We helped convince the court that Pneumo Abex, who both owned the land and used it to manufacture asbestos-containing brake products, knowingly exposed its employee George Kesner, Johnny Kesner’s uncle, to asbestos dust that he regularly brought home on his clothes.

In a significant step, the appeal court will publish this decision thus making it binding throughout the state. This published decision will provide much-needed guidance to the trial courts in cases involving a defendant who actively created the asbestos exposure hazard that caused injury and who also happened to own the premises where it happened.

Kazan Law Referenced In Asbestos Research Article

Kazan LawAs experienced asbestos lawyers, Kazan Law wins cases for our clients not only because we intricately know the laws involving asbestos litigation, but because we also know and understand the science of asbestos exposure. We know both the legal and scientific history that connects asbestos exposure to the development of fatal lung diseases – primarily malignant mesothelioma. This informed background gives us the working knowledge good asbestos lawyers should have to fully represent their clients’ interest.

But sometimes, we happily discover that our knowledgeable careful asbestos litigation work has, in addition to helping our clients, also helped advance scientific knowledge in the understanding of asbestos. Talk about a win-win!

So we are very proud to report that a new scientific article published in the International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health references Kazan Law and work we did on one of our asbestos cases. The article is aptly titled, “Dust diseases and the legacy of corporate manipulation of science and law” – a topic we certainly know more than a little about.

The objective of this article researched and written by Dr. David Egilman of Brown University and colleagues is, in their own words:

  • To understand the ongoing corporate influence on the science and politics of asbestos and silica exposure, including litigation defense strategies related to historical manipulation of science.

For their exploration of this topic, they examined previously secret corporate documents, depositions and trial testimony produced in litigation – that’s where we come in; as well as published literature. They cited an admission we obtained from a corporate witness to prove that a supposedly scientific article was paid for even though the author denied it.

The results of this investigative study, quoted below, came as no surprise to experienced asbestos attorneys like us:

  • Our analysis indicates that companies that used and produced asbestos have continued and intensified their efforts to alter the asbestos-cancer literature and utilize dust-exposure standards to avoid liability and regulation.

The researchers discuss how this is an ongoing problem; not an artifact of the twentieth century. And they note how manipulating data and regulations allows asbestos companies to continue to mine and sell asbestos in developing countries. Clearly, these companies are taking unscrupulous advantage of the poverty, lack of education and weaker regulations in these nations.

These are situations that are constantly monitored by people like Kathleen Ruff in Canada and Laurie Kazan-Allen, my sister, in England. We frequently report on their findings here in this blog.

We are proud to be part of both this current academic article and the bigger picture of seeking justice for those exposed to asbestos due to corporate malfeasance.

Landmark Case That Changed Asbestos Law

asbestos law

From San Francisco Chronicle July 4, 1980

Today as an asbestos victim, you can count on being able to sue those responsible.  If you are the survivor of a family member who died because of asbestos exposure, you also can count on being able to file a wrongful death suit.  The pioneering practice of asbestos law at Kazan Law helped make this possible.  We not only practice under existing asbestos litigation rules, we help create those rules.

When I first started my career as a personal injury attorney, asbestos law as we know it today did not exist. To commemorate Kazan Law’s 40th anniversary, we’ll take a look at one of my first cases against the Johns-Manville Company.  It was a landmark victory that changed asbestos law forever.

Reba Rudkin, the plaintiff in the case, had been dead for several months by the time the state Supreme Court made its landmark decision. Mr. Rudkin’s death was attributed to “lung cancer” at the time, caused by on-the-job asbestos exposure which also caused his asbestosis .

Mr. Rudkin had worked for 29 years at a now closed Johns-Manville plant in Pittsburg, CA where industrial products like asbestos cement boards and panels were made.

A San Francisco Chronicle newspaper article, aptly published on July 4 1980, a day after the court decision, notes:

According to Rudkin’s attorney, Steven Kazan, yesterday’s ruling was the first time a California court has permitted a worker to sue his employer for injury since 1917, except for minor cases of physical assault.

Yes, that ruling was a game changer.

In a 5 – 2 decision, the court said the alleged misconduct by Johns-Manville was flagrant enough to provide an exception to a state worker’s compensation law that had prevented workers from suing employers for work related diseases or injuries

Employers were immune then from injury lawsuits under the 1917 Worker’s Compensation Act because it said workers could only seek compensation through the labor department, not through injury lawsuits in the courts.

Using an approach that is now standard, we filed a civil lawsuit against Johns-Manville in 1974 (Rudkin v Johns Manville et al), arguing that the Worker’s Compensation Act should not shield the company and its executives from fraud and conspiracy charges.  With Mr. Rudkin suffering from the lung disease that would soon kill him, we sued Johns-Manville for fraud and conspiracy in inducing him to work in an environment they knew was dangerous.

In a deposition for the case, Johns-Manville’s former plant manager had testified that there was in fact a “hush hush” policy to suppress information about the health hazards of asbestos.

Justice Stanley Mosk, in the majority decision, ruled that a worker or his family could sue “for aggravation of the disease because of the employer’s fraudulent concealment.”

This established an exception to the workers compensation exclusive remedy rule, later codified in Section 3602(b)(2) of the California Labor Code. It also opened a pathway for hundreds of other sick and dying former employees  to seek justice from Johns-Manville and other big companies.

This case also determined that the family of a plaintiff who died during a pending court case had the right to continue the suit. This also was a very important ruling that has helped many families achieve justice and compensation from companies responsible for the death of their loved one.

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