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Behind one Texas asbestos case



Russell Allen et al vs. American Petrofina Inc. et al was filed in 1987 by attorney Joseph Blanks, then of the prominent Beaumont, Texas firm of Reaud, Morgan & Quinn and named 101 plaintiffs and 10 defendants. Its two-decade history since then is told by Scott Sabatini in the pages of the (U.S. Chamber-backed) Southeast Texas Record, in a lengthy account that touches on many of the key problems of asbestos litigation. Among the points touched on: the vast growth of the caseload, constantly running ahead of defendants' hopeful assumptions; the increasingly "colorful, provocative and accusatory" tone of plaintiffs' filings; the assemblage of relatively meritorious and relatively unmeritorious cases into unified convoys, to the tactical benefit of the latter (the "aggregate settlement model"); the eagerness of many business defendants to settle even as it became evident that dubious cases were multiplying; the bankruptcy of leading defendants and successful refocusing on others who had been more peripheral; and, finally, the legislative reaction in Texas, turning one of the nation's most attractive states for asbestos lawsuits into one of its most inhospitable. Among those interviewed: noteworthy defense-side attorneys Bill Skepnek and Mark Behrens.

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Isaac Gorodetski
Project Manager,
Center for Legal Policy at the
Manhattan Institute
igorodetski@manhattan-institute.org

Katherine Lazarski
Press Officer,
Manhattan Institute
klazarski@manhattan-institute.org

 

Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.