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42 Years - A Professional Law Corporation - Helping Asbestos Victims Since 1974

Ted Pelletier

Workers Rights Summer Brown Bag Series

workers rightsOur mission at Kazan Law to defend those harmed by workplace asbestos exposure keeps us focused on worker safety and workers’ rights.  Manufacturing may have declined in the United States in recent years but blue collar work – whether in agriculture, automotive or service industries – has not. A 2012 survey finds that in California blue collar workers outnumbered white collar workers 61% to 39%.  For that same year, Worksafe, a California nonprofit that Kazan Law has supported for many years, reported that 451,500 of those blue collar workers were injured or made ill at their jobs. An additional 339 were killed.

Therefore we feel that it is important to educate our summer asbestos law clerks as well as new employees of the firm who have recently graduated not just about the law and our practice, but also about our deep commitment to justice for all and defending workers’ rights to safety and health on the job as well as other important workers’ rights.  One of the ways we do this is with a weekly brown bag lunch series throughout the summer. The summer law clerks and any staff who choose to attend bring their lunch at noon to our conference room. There we provide cookies and beverages along with short documentary films and/or in-person talks from administrative law judges, attorneys, union representatives, and others involved in advocating for workers, including attorneys on our staff.

This inspiring series is coordinated by Fran Schreiberg, Of Counsel staff attorney who has made a career safeguarding workers rights on a state and federal level.

Topics include:

Meet Arthur Bryant and Sarah Belton of Public Justice Bryant, President of Public Justice and the Public Justice Foundation, has won major victories and established new precedents in several areas of the law, including constitutional law, toxic torts, civil rights, consumer protection, and mass torts.  The National Law Journal named him one of the 100 Most Influential Attorneys in America. Sarah Beltonjoined the Public Justice Oakland office in June 2013 as the first Cartwright-Baron Attorney. She was previously an Equal Justice Works fellow and a staff attorney at Legal Services for Children in San Francisco, California.

Report Back from Dhaka, Bangladesh Protecting Bangladesh Garment Workers from Factory Fires and Building Collapses with Garrett Brown, MPH, CIH. Brown worked for Cal/OSHA for 20 years as a compliance officer and Headquarters staff, and is now full-time volunteer Coordinator of the Maquiladora Health & Safety Support Network.

Making a Killing: Philip Morris, Kraft and Global Tobacco Addiction with discussion by Ted Pelletier This half-hour film shows how the tobacco giant uses its political power, size and marketing skill to spread tobacco addiction internationally, leaving in its wake a trail of death and disease. Pelletier, Of Counsel to the firm, earlier in his career handled the first two appeals v. Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds in California, and will share some litigation-specific stories of those cases and how they played a part in cracking Tobacco’s long-asserted lack of liability.

Those Who Know Don’t Tell A powerful documentary about the history of the struggle to rid the workplace of occupational hazards, including asbestos.

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.

Appeals Court Upholds $5 Million Verdict for Malignant Mesothelioma Patient

malignant mesothelioma

James Hellam

Our mesothelioma law firm is pleased to announce that a California court of appeals has upheld a $5,437,882 verdict for malignant mesothelioma patient James Hellam against industrial-products supplier Crane Co. (Hellam v. Crane Co., Nos. A138013 and A139141, 2014 WL 1492725 Cal. Ct. App., 1st Dist. Apr. 16, 2014).

Kazan Law partners Frank Fernandez and Dianna Lyons, now retired, won the original verdict last March for Hellam, a 66 year-old motivational speaker and former police officer. Kazan Law attorneys Ted Pelletier and Ian Rivamonte led the successful appeal. The appellate court held that evidence supported the finding that Crane’s gaskets and cement were defectively designed because they emitted and exposed Hellam to significant levels of toxic asbestos fibers during ordinary use. The court agreed that the jury rightly attributed Crane’s products being the cause of Hellam’s malignant mesothelioma.

The appeals court affirmed the trial court’s award of over $85,000 in litigation costs to Hellam and the following compensation for damages:

  • Economic damages = $937, 882.56
  • Non-economic damages = $4,500,000.00
  • Total = $5,437.882.56

A Hall of Fame softball player, Hellam had taken great pride in coaching his two sons on the ball field and was greatly looking forward to teaching his young grandsons how to play his beloved sport. Hellam had also anticipated continuing his career as a global motivational speaker for at least another decade and continuing to travel the world with his wife.

Now instead of doing the things he loved with the people he loved and enriching the world around him, James Hellam is struggling to withstand the ravages of malignant mesothelioma.

Although he had spent 13 years as a San Jose police officer before becoming a motivational speaker and leadership trainer, the seeds of Hellam’s malignant mesothelioma were sown longer ago in his past. For five consecutive summers as a kid, he worked for his grandfather’s boiler business in Monterey.

Neither Hellam nor his grandfather were warned that the products purchased from Crane’s “Crane Supply” wholesale outlet in Salinas, California for the process of refurbishing boilers contained asbestos and were a health hazard. Yet our firm presented evidence showing that Crane corporate officers knew or should have known as early as the 1930s that asbestos causes diseases that kill.

Meet Ted Pelletier, Kazan Law’s Lead Appellate and Motions Attorney

Ted W PelletierKazan Law is proud to introduce you to Ted Pelletier, the new head of our firm’s appellate and motions department. We are very pleased to bring Ted in-house to exclusively work for you, our clients, after 17 years of observing his excellent appeals work on behalf of injured consumers, especially asbestos victims.

Ted has handled dozens of appeals in the California Courts of Appeal and the California Supreme Court. One of his proudest accomplishments is successfully representing the first Californians to sue cigarette manufacturers, including two smokers who contracted asbestos disease from smoking 1950s Kent cigarettes that contained an asbestos filter. You can read his full bio here.

Right now, we’ll just informally talk to Ted about his work.

Why did you choose to go into law practice?

My mother was an assistant district attorney in Los Angeles. She brought home stories of people whose lives had been devastated by circumstances they had not brought on themselves. The fact that my mom helped them made me feel good about what she was doing. I saw the legal profession as a way to help people who might otherwise be helpless.

How did you become interested in working with asbestos and mesothelioma cases?

I worked in a big law firm for a year in between graduating from UC Santa Barbara and going to law school at Hastings. This firm fought against the rights of injured consumers, and I realized that I couldn’t do that. I wanted to be on the side of the consumer.

After law school, I was fortunate to work for an excellent appellate lawyer practicing on the plaintiffs’ side. The first cases I worked on involved asbestos appeals. I learned through that process about the disease and what it did to people. It felt great to help them.

Why did you decide to work for Kazan Law?

I knew from 17 years in this field that Kazan Law is the best. I always admired their high quality work. I had received overtures before from firms and it had never felt like a good fit — but this one did.

How does your work at Kazan Law help mesothelioma victims?

Money doesn’t replace a person, but it can help a family pay medical bills and compensate for the breadwinner being gone.

We also help give people a sense of justice. Yes, this was done to you but we are making it so that the people who did this are held accountable.

At Kazan, we are also helping to shape the law in this area of fighting for rights of victims, so that the laws provide justice for asbestos victims and applies to everyone, no matter who is representing them.

What do you like about your work?

I know I am fighting battles for people suddenly thrust into the worst battle of their lives.

Imagine that you or someone in your family worked for years installing insulation.  Now suddenly you can’t breathe.  What do you do?

At Kazan Law, we pool our talents and resources and provide these people with help that they otherwise could not get. We battle for them with people who aren’t willing to stand up and be accountable for what they did but are willing to throw money around to defend themselves even if they sometimes have to manipulate science, facts, or truth to do it.  It feels great to fight for these people to get them a sense of justice.

 

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