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October 05, 2004

Post-Dispatch on asbestos "rocket docket"

Wrapping up our summary of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's special series on asbestos litigation (see posts here, here and here investigates the distinctive way Madison County's judges manage the court's asbestos docket. More mesothelioma cases were set for trial last year in Madison County than in New York or Chicago. Plaintiff's attorneys praise the speed of the process, but "defense attorneys say the court's pace -- with trials often set only six months after a suit is filed, often setting dozens of trials for a particular week -- makes it impossible for defense attorneys to prepare for any of them, and weakens the defense position in settling them. 'We have to prepare for dozens of cases from around the country and we don't know which case (the plaintiff lawyer) is going to call,' said a defense attorney who asked to remain anonymous. 'But Randy Bono can focus on one case like a laser.'"

One factor in the county's judicial climate "is a watershed event almost 25 years ago known then and now as 'the vendetta.' In 1980, a small group of prominent plaintiff attorneys proved they could oust judges they did not like. They did that to circuit Judges Victor Mosele and John DeLaurenti, both now deceased," in hardball electoral campaigns. There's also a separate article on donations to judicial campaigns, along with sidebars: "Who Gives What?", "Graphic of key players in Madison County mesothelioma litigation", and "Graphic of Madison County at a glance."

Posted by Walter Olson at 12:09 AM | TrackBack (2)




Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.