At The Perrin Conferences: Cutting-Edge Issues in Asbestos Litigation Conference on May 6, discussion featured topics covering the current state of asbestos litigation. Charles M. Ferguson from our firm, Weitz & Luxenberg, was a conference co-chair and spoke at one of the sessions. Also presenting was Weitz & Luxenberg attorney Joseph J. Mandia.
Virtual Conference Reviews Trends in Asbestos Litigation
The conference was designed to present viewpoints from many different sides of the issue, including the plaintiff, defendant, and from the bench.
There were multiple sessions during the conference with a wide variety of speakers on many different topics. Topics ranged from a panel on the in-house counsel’s perspective to how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting litigation.
“Conferences like this are an excellent chance to share information, experience, and perspective. It’s an honor to be asked to participate in such an event,” said Mr. Ferguson. He is the practice group chair for mesothelioma and asbestos litigation at Weitz & Luxenberg.
He also spoke at the session covering Asbestos Litigation in the COVID Era and the Arising Ethical Considerations. The session included an overview on the reopening of the courts, the changing needs when counselling clients, and challenges with client communication and confidentiality.
Also discussed were whether COVID-19 impacted resolution rates or case values and how juries may be impacted by national developments. In addition, speakers addressed the duty within a law firm to ensure compliance with rules of professional conduct.
Mr. Ferguson pointed out, “The pandemic has had a profound effect on how lawyers work within the court system, and in relation to their clients. A new set of practices has been established. I was privileged to be able share my experiences and observations.”
Mr. Ferguson has been with W&L since 1989 and has participated in some our firm’s most successful cases with regards to asbestos litigation. He was one of a group of lawyers from W&L who won a landmark case representing 36 former shipyard workers who had been exposed to asbestos and developed mesothelioma and lung cancer.
Talc and Regulatory Changes in Asbestos Litigation
Recent reports from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and how they have affected talc litigation, was the topic of another session at the conference. Mr. Mandia spoke at this session. He is an associate attorney at W&L and many of his cases focus on exposure to asbestos and consumer talcum powder products.
“It is important that attorneys are aware of the results of the FDA’s recent testing of talc-containing cosmetics and how that can be presented in court,” said Mr. Mandia. “We need to be aware in order to best serve our clients.”
The session, An Update on Talc and The Impact of Recent Regulatory Changes in Asbestos Litigation, provided updates on the current EPA risk assessment on asbestos and the March 2020 FDA summary of results of talc-containing cosmetics. Also discussed were the relevance and admissibility of these reports at trial and the impact of these developments on expert opinions. Speakers considered these regulatory changes from a state-of-the-art context.
Multiple Sessions on State of Asbestos Lawsuits
The other discussions at the conference included a review of the current state of asbestos lawsuits in various jurisdictions, a presentation focusing on in-house counsel issues, and a review of current appellate decisions and proposed legislation.
The final session reviewed how the courts are managing current dockets and new technologies, like Zoom, in the age of COVID-19 restrictions. This group featured active judges from New York, California, and Illinois. These are jurisdictions with a large percentage of the country’s asbestos cases.
The conference’s aim was to present up-to-date information on the current state of asbestos litigation and for the participants to share their perspectives. We were proud to participate in this conference and that two of our attorneys were chosen to present to this distinguished group.