I am pleased that our firm was chosen to present three research abstracts at the International Mesothelioma Interest Group (iMig 2014) conference in Cape Town, South Africa. In this video I provide an introduction to the mesothelioma research abstracts and explain how they are presented at the world’s leading conference on mesothelioma.
We are particularly honored that Kazan Law has been chosen to present some of our own research work at this conference. Like the Boston conference in 2012, this year again in Cape Town we are the only law firm in the world whose work has been accepted for presentation.
I am proud to announce that two partners here at our firm have been selected for the National Trial Lawyers Top 100 list for this year. The two asbestos attorneys singled out for recognition at our firm are me, Steven Kazan and Kazan Law principal partner Gordon Greenwood.
Membership in The National Trial Lawyers is limited to the Top 100 civil plaintiff and criminal defense lawyers in each state or from highly-populated regions of states. The criteria for membership include:
- Reputation among peers, the judiciary and the public
- Achievements, settlements and verdicts as a trial lawyer
- Board certification as a trial lawyer
- Nominations from leading trial lawyers, current members and Executive Committee members
- Leadership and membership in other national and state trial lawyer organizations
- Rankings and ratings by leading national evaluation organizations
Since joining Kazan Law in 1998, Gordon Greenwood has represented hundreds of people who worked with or around asbestos containing products, or whose families did. In addition to representing victims of asbestos disease, Gordon also maintains a caseload of pro bono cases. Prior to joining Kazan Law, Gordon spent eight years as a trial lawyer in the San Francisco Public Defender’s office personally giving quality legal representation to those accused of crimes without means to defend themselves.
I am proud of the expert team we have built here at Kazan Law over the past 40 years. Whenever we win a case for our clients, it is partly because of the thorough intelligent work that has been done in previous cases by our colleagues and the generous sharing of experience and knowledge here that we encourage. In helping each other we help our clients. And that’s the goal we all strive for here.
Asbestos victim Robert Alan Speake was “in frail health and breathing with difficulty,” according to the December 1, 1981 article in the San Francisco Chronicle. But he stood up for his day in court, a day that marked a major change in the tragic history of asbestos victims and the businesses and individuals who exploited their innocence for financial gain.
As ill as he was on that day, Speake stood up on behalf of not only himself but all asbestos victims. And standing with him there in Contra Costa County Superior Court on that day was me. I would go on to fight on behalf of asbestos victims for the next several decades – a fight I continue to this day. But on that day in 1981, we were breaking new legal ground.
I was helping to represent Speake in his lawsuit against the giant Johns-Manville Corp. family of companies which he blamed for his fatal illness.
Speake , 66 at the time, was an asbestos worker for 33 years at Johns-Manville’s Pittsburg plant. We maintained that the executives knew of the health hazards of working with asbestos as early as the 1930s but hid the information from their employees. Bob said they never told him anything and I believed him.
Speake, who had to take early retirement because of his declining health, was suffering from asbestosis, a disease of the lungs, caused by his work environment. Johns-Manville’s lawyers tried to blame the victim and claimed his illness was caused by smoking.
I didn’t buy that. The article quotes me as saying that Johns-Manville acted in “willful and conscious disregard” by never telling workers of the dangers.
“Bob Speake should have had the opportunity to say, I’m going to get out of here and get a safe job, before his health began to deteriorate,” I told the court.
I showed evidence revealing that the company had kept secret the results of X-rays and exams showing signs of asbestos-caused damage in Speake as early as the 1950s.
I sought not only lost pay for Speake, but also substantial punitive damages to make an example of Johns-Manville so others would be spared the fate that was Bob Speake’s.
We succeeded in making an example of Johns-Manville. Their name came to be synonymous with the scandal of asbestos exposure and callous disregard for human life. They went into bankruptcy several months later, right before our next group of mesothelioma lawsuits for their plant workers was set for trial. But we did not succeed in sparing others from Bob Speake’s fate. Greed never learns its lesson. And so we continue to fight on behalf of asbestos victims.
When our office takes on an asbestos case, we do so with utmost integrity and only after intensive scrutiny to make sure that the asbestos case has complete validity before we bring it forward. Our ability to win cases and achieve substantial judgments or settlements for our clients depends not only on the way we prepare to meet our burden of proof in each asbestos case but also on our reputation. We want the opposing lawyers to know from the outset that if Kazan Law is on an asbestos case, it must have merit.
But because of the substantial amounts of money involved, the asbestos litigation field can be the target of hucksters and charlatans. Just like the proverbial bad apple that spoils the whole barrel, there is always the concern that a disreputable firm can tarnish all of us and hurt every asbestos case.
For this week’s post to commemorate Kazan Law’s 40th anniversary, we turn to a time just about ten years ago when a Texas law firm suddenly set up shop in San Francisco and just as suddenly closed shop l0 months later. And no longer exists according to a Google search. They came here to try to drum up business for silicosis lawsuits. Silicosis is a lung disease that is caused by inhaling tiny bits of silica. Silica is a common mineral that is part of sand, rock and mineral ores like quartz. Certain forms of it can cause serious lung disease and even increase the risk for developing lung cancer.
The problem was there wasn’t any silicosis here. That didn’t stop them. They blanketed the region with newspaper ads and mass mailings offering free screenings, as reported in by the legal newspaper The Recorder.
They filed about 1,000 lawsuits using a doctor who made diagnoses without personally examining patients or checking their work histories. They were out of control and the courts were not amused. Neither were the attorneys like us that take every lung disease case very seriously.
I was interviewed about it for The Recorder’s article. Here’s an excerpt:
Steven Kazan, one of the country’s top asbestos lawyers, said they (Kazan Law) aren’t bringing silicosis suits and even questions their validity.
“The whole thing is somewhere between shameless and shameful,” said Kazan. “I don’t know of pulmonary doctors around here who really have seen silicosis cases.”
As usual, I got the last word in. Or at least that’s how the reporter chose to end the story.
“They did a whole blanket mailing to Piedmont (a small affluent city of 10,000 in the middle of Oakland). There’s not a whole lot of sandblasters who retired and moved to Piedmont,” said Kazan. “So it’s kind of ridiculous.”
And indeed, it was.
To commemorate the occasion here’s a look back to how Kazan Law began.
Forty years ago, the workers at the Johns-Manville plant in Lompoc, California didn’t know why; they only knew that people were sick and dying. A lot of them. Colleagues they had worked with for many years. So the labor union representative collected death certificates of those who had died in the last five years and wrote a letter to someone he thought could help them. That someone was me.
The year was 1974. Telephones were attached to walls, a computer took up a whole room and companies that produced asbestos-containing products were getting away with murder. Employees exposed to asbestos on the job were dying from asbestosis and malignant mesothelioma.
And in Oakland, California, 40 years ago, I had just hung out my shingle. Kazan Law then was just me and a secretary. But I had all ready become known for having expertise in litigating complex medical and scientific issues in other kinds of cases, and had worked with a workers compensation attorney who was hired to get workers compensation benefits for some men who worked at the Pittsburg CA Johns Manville asbestos products plant.
Then, in 1974, shortly after going out on my own, I was asked to help by doing the civil law suits for those plant workers. I won a precedent-setting suit for Reba Rudkin, who developed asbestosis after working for 29 years at Johns-Manville’s plant in Pittsburg, California. Following this case, I represented over one hundred asbestos-affected workers from Johns-Manville plants.
In 1982, I won a $150,000 verdict for Bob Speake, one of the workers from the Johns-Manville plant in Pittsburg in a test case trial ordered by the Superior Court in Contra Costa County, CA. This case is regarded as a “threshold verdict” because it created the opportunity for punitive damage verdicts against Johns-Manville. Months later, just as we were getting ready to go to settlement conferences on a large group of those cases in advance of a fall 1982 trial of a group of these cases, Johns –Manville filed for bankruptcy court protection. I eventually had 393 cases pending against the company which we resolved with the Trust Fund set up after that bankruptcy.
Today Kazan Law is still headquartered in Oakland California. Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood now has 22 attorneys, including me. As Kazan Law celebrates its 40th anniversary this month, 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. An $11 million verdict was just announced last month in Kazan Law’s wrongful death suit on behalf of mesothelioma victim Gordon Bankhead’s wife and children.
I am proud that Kazan Law has remained at the forefront of asbestos litigation in California and nationally. Since 1974, we have represented thousands of people – those suffering from mesothelioma and their families. We treasure our reputation as pioneers in asbestos litigation who are among the most experienced mesothelioma lawyers in the United States.
As we celebrate our 40th anniversary, we recognize our history and its significance in asbestos litigation landmarks and celebrate our current accomplishments as we face the future.
Last summer I received an honor from Kazan Law client Debbie Clemmons, who lost her beloved husband Randy Clemmons to mesothelioma. She honored me by asking me to write a chapter for her new book about her family’s experience with mesothelioma, “In His Grace, Grappling with Mesothelioma: The Randy Brady Story”, available on Amazon . And she kindly credits me as a co-author. Now I am going to honor Debbie and Randy Clemmons by sharing with you the information she prompted me to write.
Selecting an asbestos attorney to represent you and your family is the most important financial decision you will ever make.
It is a more important decision than even buying a home. Your home could potentially yield you a couple of hundred thousand dollars in return on investment if property values skyrocket in your neighborhood. But an asbestos case properly handled by a top quality asbestos attorney from a reputable firm that specializes in asbestos can be worth millions to you and your family.
Money cannot replace a person. But money can prevent additional unnecessary suffering on the part of the family by paying the bills. It also helps give you and your family a sense of justice. A great harm was done to you and a good asbestos attorney can make sure that those responsible are held accountable, and that the family’s financial security is guaranteed.
Your medical care expenses and the loss of earnings can be compensated with substantial settlements if you choose your asbestos attorney carefully. But what’s more, you could potentially – as many of my firm’s clients choose to do – set aside a portion of the money you receive for mesothelioma medical research, and we will be honored to contribute to that effort through our firm’s charitable foundation.
You could support a charitable trust to help fund medical research seeking to find a cure and better treatment for mesothelioma. You could help create a future where possibly no one will suffer from the debilitating effects and losses of this disease. This would be money that would never go towards this important cause unless someone like you puts it there. And this would only be possible if you work with an asbestos attorney who is experienced and willing to fight for you every inch of the way, not just take the easy way out and settle for a minimal amount.
Again, this is the most crucial financial decision you will ever make in your life. Getting it wrong could harm your chance of providing your family with financial security for after you’re gone.
I am delighted to tell you that our mesothelioma law firm just made the list of Top Plaintiffs’ Firms for Asbestos Litigation in a new list just published by the US Chamber of Commerce. Only 15 law firms made the list out of the hundreds of firms across the country advertising themselves as asbestos attorneys.
Receiving a spot on this list is a double distinction because the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, headquartered in Washington D.C., traditionally sides with the defendants, the companies who are allegedly responsible for asbestos exposure and lobbies on their behalf. It has an adversarial relationship at best with firms who represent those suing for damages from asbestos-related illness.
So to be chosen as a worthy opponent by the U.S. Chamber is quite an honor. And it’s an honor we’ve more than earned. Kazan Law has played a significant role in asbestos litigation for nearly four decades.
Kazan Law consistently makes lists for top US law firms including the prestigious Super Lawyers and the US News & World Report’s Best Lawyers list. The U.S. Chamber’s list was published on October 13 by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform.
I was personally named in the U.S. Chamber’s list of top asbestos litigators. In addition, two other Kazan Law partners are noted in the Chamber’s listing. They are Joseph Satterley and Justin Bosl. Satterley is a leading asbestos attorney whose own grandfather suffered from asbestosis, a potentially deadly disease caused by asbestos exposure. Bosl became a partner at Kazan Law in January 2013. He first joined the firm as a law clerk in 2004 and accepted an associate position in 2006. He was named to the Top 40 Under 40 list by The National Trial Lawyers in 2012 and 2013.
I founded Kazan Law in 1974 and since then our firm has represented thousands of people suffering from asbestos related illnesses, particularly mesothelioma. Our attorneys include pioneers in asbestos litigation and are among the most experienced mesothelioma lawyers in California.
But the fact that the top attorneys named for Kazan represent different age and experience level is a clear indication that Kazan Law is well positioned to be a top asbestos litigation firm for years to come.
I am pleased and honored that Kazan, McClain, Lyons, Greenwood & Harley has been invited to present four abstracts at iMig 2012, an international conference where mesothelioma expert physicians and researchers gather from all over the world every two years to discuss recent developments.
Throughout the world there have been hundreds of papers submitted and approved for presentation. Only four of those papers were submitted by attorneys and all four of those papers are from our firm.
In this video I present and discuss four posters with abstracts published by iMig. This knowledge has grown from my 20 year experience with asbestos trust funds and almost 40 yrs representing asbestos victims. As hard as we focus on the fight for justice for each one of our clients, sometimes our discoveries in the process bring forth implications which are more important than the case itself.
As Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Allen E. Broussard Law School Scholarship Fund and program sponsor, I enjoyed the honor of presenting scholarship awards last Friday with board member Jill Dessalines at a small reception in Oakland. The Allen E. Broussard Scholarship Foundation is committed to the continued pursuit of Justice Broussard’s life long desire to assist minorities in their pursuit of higher education, better job opportunities and careers in the legal profession.
At $5,000 each the Broussard Scholarship award is the largest private scholarship award for law students attending California Bay Area law schools. The Broussard award has assisted three or more academically well qualified students from economically deprived backgrounds each year since 1997.
2012 Broussard Scholarship Award Recipients
Lizbeth Malmstead is a first year law student at University of San Francisco School of Law. The youngest of five children, Ms. Malmstead is the first in her entire family to attend college. Growing up near the Tijuana-San Diego border, she has witnessed her community struggle with drug cartels, immigration, and poverty. Ms. Malmstead’s hope is to strengthen her community and other similar communities by being a voice for them. She believes that a law degree is a step towards that goal.
I will introduce the other 2012 recipients in a subsequent article.