Defendants in Asbestos-Exposure Cases Needlessly Prolonging Discovery

Defendants’ law firms in asbestos-exposure cases are increasingly resorting to the tactic of needlessly prolonging discovery in order to waste time, run up costs and — ultimately — weaken the plaintiffs’ resolve to fight on.

Unfortunately, the tactic sometimes works.

At least it does against smaller law firms that lack the resources and expertise of Weitz & Luxenberg.

Making discovery go on and on is one way defendants’ firms try to make plaintiffs’ firms think twice before initiating a lawsuit against their clients. For example, by conducting depositions in such a way as to cause each one to consume the better part of a week or more, the defense team can wreak havoc on the opposing side’s ability to get much work accomplished for its other clients.

However, that sort of gambit falls flat when played against Weitz & Luxenberg. The number of lawyers we employ (approximately 80) affords us the flexibility of scheduling necessary to remain productive while members of the litigation team engage in off-site depositions — no matter how long they take to complete.

Our size is advantageous in another regard. It allows us to employ lawyers who possess highly specialized asbestos-exposure expertise.

For instance, the types of asbestos exposures that we see now are more and more remote. Thirty years ago, people who became sick from asbestos tended to be those who mined it, toiled in a factory that manufactured asbestos-containing products, or handled asbestos-containing products over the span of an entire career. Now, in dramatic contrast, large numbers of potential clients seem not to have any obvious asbestos exposure at all. In a recent case, the client was a tailor. We were able to determine that his asbestos exposure occurred because his workstation was situated closest to the facility’s steam ironing press, which — as it turned out — featured asbestos-containing press pads. Most asbestos firms will never have seen a case like this. In contrast, our staff includes not one, not two, but three attorneys who have each prosecuted several cases involving steam ironing presses.

Additionally, our attorneys are not clustered under a single roof. Rather, they are dispersed among offices in multiple jurisdictions. This deployment strategy serves to help maximize a client’s recovery. To illustrate, we very often have cases where a client’s exposure to asbestos occurred in different parts of the country. Perhaps the client was aboard a Navy ship dry-docked in Long Beach, Calif., and later at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, and lastly at Norfolk, Va. If so, he was exposed in more than one jurisdiction – and, as it happens, we have offices in two of them, allowing us to file where it would be most advantageous to our plaintiff’s cause.

We also have the option of filing cases in Delaware. That is of great strategic importance for clients who live in states without a well-developed asbestos litigation. The rules in Delaware are such that a plaintiff need not be a resident of Delaware in order to file a case there. However, the procedures for filing and maintaining a case in Delaware are also dauntingly complicated, so most law firms shy away from bringing suit there. We, on the other hand, have been filing and maintaining cases in Delaware long enough to not be deterred by the procedural complexities.

A disturbing trend is the growing difficulty plaintiffs are encountering in seeking justice from asbestos defendants. This is due in part to state legislative bodies acting to limit the compensatory rights of victims, curb their ability to initiate lawsuits, and/or to maintain lawsuits against certain defendants.

However, Weitz & Luxenberg continues to maintain its edge despite this increasingly hostile environment. More than most firms, we remain fully able to navigate these unfriendly waters.

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