Results matching “harron”

The Lawyer as Racketeer - PointOfLaw Forum

Two Pennsylvania attorneys and a West Virginia doctor they hired to read clients' X-rays have just been found liable by a federal jury in Wheeling, WV for violating the (federal) Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, and for (state-law) fraud, in connection with asbestos claims made against CSX Transportation. The jury awarded $429,240.47, which was the amount CSX said it had spent to defend the 11 claims, against Pittsburgh attorneys Robert Peirce and Louis Raimond and Bridgeport, WV radiologist Ray Harron.

Peirce had filed more than 14,000 asbestos cases against CSX. Harron had diagnosed tens of thousands of asbestos claims for the attorneys. Harron's diagnoses were first called into question in 2005 by a judge in Texas that heard cases involving the lung disease silicosis. CSX filed its lawsuit later that year, claiming Kentucky railroad worker Earl Baylor was fraudulently diagnosed with asbestosis. At the trial, CSX attorneys argued that Harron had initially found hundreds of patients clear of asbestosis, but later switched his diagnosis. It presented only 11 of those cases, likely because of statute of limitations or solvency issues.

The West Virginia verdict follows a May 2012 federal appeals court ruling upholding a $420,000 fraud verdict against two Mississippi lawyers, William Guy and Thomas Brock, for committing fraud during an asbestos lawsuit they filed in 2001.

Around the web, June 23 - PointOfLaw Forum

Asbestos litigation edition:

  • Nonmalignant asbestos claims headed back up, per Manville trust data? [Hartley] Asbestos suits targeting new defendants [MC Record and more ("take-home" liability)]
  • One-industry town of Asbest, in Russia, stoutly defends its production of the mineral [Shaun Walker/Slate, Hartley]
  • CSX moving toward trial on its bogus-diagnosis claims against Peirce and Harron [Hartley] Asbestos deponent turns out to know little about his case against the railroad [WV Record]
  • New generation of asbestos trusts "tempts plaintiffs' lawyers to seek double recoveries by concealing their clients' trust recoveries from tort defendants" [Jacob Cohn and Joseph Arnold/Daily Journal, PDF, via California Civil Justice]

New appreciation for burdens of mass litigation - PointOfLaw Forum

Per the Chamber-backed West Virginia Record, Pittsburgh lawyer Robert Peirce says it would be too burdensome for him to go back and produce details on thousands of asbestos lawsuits he filed, many of which, contends adversary CSX, were based on medical testimony from Dr. Ray Harron, who is accused of churning out fraudulent x-ray reports.

A new RICO suit in the name of National Service Industries targets Ray Harron and various others involved in mass x-ray screening for (the suit alleges) "fabricating bogus 'medical evidence' for asbestos litigation claims." [(U.S. Chamber-backed) Legal NewsLine, West Virginia Record, and Madison County Record] Separately, as Beck & Herrmann relate, an MDL court has declined lawyers' request to quash defendants' subpoenae "for documents from doctors who had purported to diagnose asbestos-related conditions in probably thousands of plaintiffs."

Discovery in cases like these could reveal a lot about what goes on in the industry of mass-diagnosing asbestos illness in seemingly unimpaired plaintiffs.

Around the web, January 4 - PointOfLaw Forum

  • Aside from the terrorism-suit issue, Bush's pocket veto of defense bill also spared the country an expansion of the FMLA via military-related leave [Schwartz, Connecticut Employment Law Blog, Jottings of an Employer's Lawyer]
  • Even for those jaded by all the reports of Scruggs-duggery, the Kerri Rigsby deposition has some pretty amazing stuff regarding those stolen Katrina insurance files [Rossmiller]
  • Did California's lawsuit against EPA land in Ninth Circuit via venue gamesmanship, and if so who was the game-player? [Adler @ Volokh via ShopFloor]
  • We want your hard drive: one of the scarier discovery requests [NYLJ]
  • Attorney for asbestos-diagnosis figure Dr. Ray Harron denies that his client is hard to find [WV Record/earlier]
  • Justice at Stake campaign, which campaigns against (among other things) money in judicial elections, has new blog [Gavel Grab]

Silicosis doc surrenders license - PointOfLaw Forum

More repercussions from Judge Jack's exposure of "red flags of fraud" among repeat silicosis/asbestos claimants, per the Associated Press: "A doctor who made thousands of questionable diagnoses of the lung disease silicosis has surrendered his Texas medical license amid an investigation by the Texas Medical Board. Raymond A. Harron, 74, last week agreed to no longer practice medicine in Texas and not seek renewal or re-issuance of the license he got 44 years ago. His Texas medical license expires May 31." Our earlier coverage of Dr. Harron's exploits is here.

"Accusations of 'double dipping' surface" - PointOfLaw Forum

Roger Redditt's family has already collected from lawsuits blaming the smoker's death on asbestos, but his lawsuit alleging silicosis was the cause is about to proceed in Mississippi—with both ailments cursorily diagnosed by the now-discredited Ray Harron. The Houston Chronicle (following up on its June 8 two-parter) details plaintiff attorney Richard Laminack's double-dipping—including what appears to be an attempt of a cover-up. (Mike Tolson, Sep. 10).

"The Silicosis Bar Association" - PointOfLaw Forum

Yesterday's WSJ editorializes:

The now-defunct Houston firm of O'Quinn, Laminack & Pirtle, for instance, liked to point out that its firm doesn't handle asbestos cases. (The argument being that it therefore couldn't profit twice.) Former partner Richard Laminack repeated this denial to Congress last week. Yet the very same day, several silicosis defendants filed a motion in Mississippi court claiming that, in 2002, the O'Quinn firm had represented a Roger Redditt in both asbestos and silicosis claims. According to the motion, Mr. Redditt was diagnosed with both diseases by the same Dr. Ray Harron, and the suits were filed within weeks of each other.

The Redditt case also appears to be just one example of how O'Quinn used the same clients twice. Mr. Laminack admitted to Congress that O'Quinn had once financed a separate Houston law firm, Foster Harssema. The Foster firm then handled asbestos claims, while the O'Quinn firm handled silicosis. Mr. Laminack acknowledged that he and another former O'Quinn partner were listed as managers of the Foster firm, and that O'Quinn collected referral fees for asbestos cases that Foster won.

None of these suits would have been possible without a handful of for-hire doctors. Some of these docs have since recanted their diagnoses; others have taken the Fifth. Congress got the lawyers to fill in some blanks about their relationships with these "experts." Campbell Cherry partner Billy Davis confirmed that his law firm had provided doctors with the language they were to use in silicosis diagnoses -- the better to make them admissible in court. Mr. Davis, who made quite a to-do in his opening statement about his firm's high standards, admitted that his firm had only paid screening companies for positive diagnoses.

A webcast of the Congressional hearing is online, and a transcript will be available in 60-90 days.

WSJ on asbestos probe - PointOfLaw Forum

From Friday's editorial (sub-only):

...Much of what a grand jury does is secret, but a few details are leaking out.

Among them is a recent court filing, in which one doctor involved in the Jack opinion, James Ballard (responsible for at least 11,000 asbestos diagnoses), has admitted he is a "subject" of a "criminal" grand jury proceeding. He and another asbestos diagnoser -- Dr. Ray Harron -- are already lawyered up and asserting their Fifth Amendment rights. Yet another physician, George Martindale, has sent documents to the grand jury suggesting that trial lawyers misused his work in court, as well as encouraged him to shut up about certain details in his deposition....

Even Congress is finally getting in on the act, with House Republicans Joe Barton and Ed Whitfield probing the key players in the Jack litigation. Mr. Whitfield's subcommittee recently voted 11-0 to authorize subpoenas to at least four doctors. To date, none of the doctors has supplied the requested documents; some are citing constitutional privileges. The committee is considering its next steps....

While much of the subpoena focus has been on doctors and screening companies, the trail is increasingly leading to the law firm door.

The tale of Ray Harron, asbestos doctor - PointOfLaw Forum

Today's New York Times has an extensive look at Ray Harron (Jul. 15), who has earned millions of dollars doing up to 150 cursory x-ray readings a day at $125/pop and "diagnosing" asbestosis or silicosis for litigation purposes. Harron double-dipped with over 1000 claimants, diagnosing asbestosis in one case and silicosis in another. It's a family business; his son, Andrew Harron, has also submitted claims to the Manville Trust, which has announced that it will no longer pay claims based on diagnoses from the Harrons now that questions have arisen about Harron's first 76 thousand diagnoses. (Jonathan Glater, "Reading X-Rays in Asbestos Suits Enriched Doctor", New York Times, Nov. 29) (hat-tip to T.S.).

Silicosis doctors testify: denouement - PointOfLaw Forum

(Earlier entries in the series: Dec. 21; Feb. 17; Feb. 27; Mar. 2; Mar. 14; Mar. 16; Mar. 21.)

Readers here have been following the scandal revealed in the silcosis multi-district litigation hearings in Corpus Christi. Doctors, in cahoots with lawyers, farmed clients with hundreds of bogus silicosis diagnoses a day. Though silicosis kills perhaps 200 people a year, somehow there were 20,000 silicosis lawsuits being brought in Mississippi alone. Judge Janis Graham Jack, in a blistering 249-page opinion, held such evidence inherently unreliable.

"These diagnoses were about litigation rather than healthcare. It is apparent that truth and justice had very little to do with these diagnoses—otherwise more effort would have been devoted to ensuring they were accurate. Instead, these diagnoses were driven neither by health nor justice: they were manufactured for money."

Though that decision is not binding on state courts that will eventually handle the cases after a jurisdictional remand, one hopes it will be influential. An even bigger scandal might be the fact that this is the first time a court has inquired into the mass screenings fraud in asbestos and silicosis suits. More than 65% of the silica plaintiffs had previously sued over asbestos. Ray Harron, criticized in Corpus Christi, has made 52,000 asbestos diagnoses.

Judge Jack singled out O'Quinn, Laminack and Pirtle (OL Jun. 18, 2004 and links therein) for criticism:

"The clear motivation for O'Quinn's micro-management of the diagnostic process was to inflate the number of plaintiffs and overwhelm the defendants and the judicial system. This is apparently done in hopes of extracting mass nuisance-value settlements because the defendants and the system are financially incapable of examining the merits of each individual claim in the usual manner."

Judge Jack's sanctions, however, were limited to about eight thousand dollars in attorney's fees (not $825,000, as the Wall Street Journal reported), in part because the defendants were unable to meet the restrictive standards for proving fraudulent joinder (cf. Mar. 28 and OL Jul. 11), which meant that she also held that she did not have jurisdiction over the vast majority of the cases that were removed by defendants from state court to federal court. Unless criminal prosecutors move in, there may not be much deterrence of this fraud. A federal grand jury in New York has been issuing subpoenas. (Neal Falgoust, "Judge: Cases about money, not justice", Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Jul. 2; Mary Alice Robbins, "Silica Order Could Affect Future Mass Tort Litigation", Texas Lawyer, Jul. 12; Wall Street Journal, "The Silicosis Sheriff", Jul. 14 ($); Neal Falgoust, "Judge may sway other silicosis suits", Corpus Christi Caller-Times, Jul. 6; Mike Tolson, "Attorneys behind silicosis suits draw U.S. judge's wrath", Houston Chronicle, Jul. 2).