Several of Weitz & Luxenberg’s attorneys played significant roles in the annual Perrin New York Asbestos Legislation Conference earlier this month. The conference was held on December 7, 2021, at the Sheraton New York Times Square.,
Charles Ferguson, head of W&L’s Asbestos Litigation Group, commented on the strong participation of attorneys from W&L at the conference. “We are proud our firm is invited to play a significant and meaningful part in conferences such as this one. It shows what a powerful body of knowledge we have to share in this area of law,” states Mr. Ferguson.
Important Asbestos Litigation Conference
The conference was again co-chaired by Mr. Ferguson. Also participating in the conference were two other attorneys from W&L, as well attorneys from other firms, and members of the bench.
The purpose of the conference was to allow professionals active in the field of asbestos litigation to meet to exchange perspectives and viewpoints. The conference was held in New York City in person this year. The last conference was held virtually, due to the pandemic.
W&L Attorneys Presented at Sessions
The opening session of the conference was the Woman’s Breakfast.
Among the presenters was Patti Burshtyn, an experienced senior litigator in the W&L Asbestos Litigation Group.
Alani Golanski was featured at the Appellate Roundtable and Summary Judgement Decisions session and is the director of the Appellate Litigation Unit at W&L.
Opening Session: The Women’s Breakfast
The Woman’s Breakfast was an opportunity for female attorneys to discuss issues they are addressing in the workplace. The focus of the presentations was dealing with practicing law during a pandemic. While the crisis had caused people to move to a remote work environment, offices are slowly changing back.
In her remarks, Ms. Burshtyn noted while attorneys and staff are continuing to work remotely, offices seem to be moving to a hybrid approach. People seem to like working in person and being able to talk to others face to face.
She believes, “The in-person environment fosters better communication and the ability to mentor younger staff, which is still very important. However, people have also seen the advantage of not having to commute, having more time for work, and the ability to achieve a better work/life balance.”
With regards to having a Woman’s Breakfast, Ms. Burshtyn felt, it was good to have a forum devoted to letting female members speak to issues that concerned them.
Ferguson Provides Opening Remarks
Mr. Ferguson extended a welcome to the attendees at the conference. As one of the co-chairs of the event, Mr. Ferguson’s remarks centered on the continuing impact of the pandemic on the practice of litigation. He recognized the new challenges everyone has had to follow in conducting business during the past 18 months.
Even though this conference was being held in person, COVID-19 is still having an impact on asbestos clients and attorneys. “This age of COVID-19 is making things more difficult, but we need to persevere even more as we move to get all mesothelioma, lung cancer, and ovarian cancer cases justly resolved,”
Mr. Ferguson points out.
“There are challenges we face every day in my role as chair of Weitz & Luxenberg’s mesothelioma and asbestos practice area. But it is our job to overcome them, on behalf of our clients,” he adds.
Appellate Roundtable and Summary Judgement Decisions
Mr. Golanski was one of the presenters at the Appellate Roundtable. He lent his experience to the discussions, based on his background at W&L.
The panel noted there are more appeals pending in the courts, and an increasing number of them are concerned with asbestos exposure from the use of talc. According to Mr. Golanski, “Issues of the differences between asbestos fibers and cleavage fragments, as well as causation, have characterized recent talc-related appeals.”
Some focus was placed on the case of Olson vs. Johnson & Johnson. Olson is the first case to be appealed since the possibility of punitive damages were restored in June of 2017. In Olson, over $100 million in punitive damages has been awarded to the plaintiff, after the amount was reduced by the trial judge.
Other important cases being appealed are Nemeth, dealing with issue of talc causation, and the asbestos floor tile cases of American Biltrite vs. Grunert, vs. Dyer, and vs. Pomponi. The former two currently waiting on an anticipated decision by New York’s high court in Nemeth.