Fighting Fraud in Asbestos Mass Screening Cases

By January 26, 2010Briefly Legal, General

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and other business and legal reform groups have joined in an amicus briefing supporting CSX Transportation, Inc., and its efforts to counter the litigation industry for generating fraudulent asbestos lawsuits. Filed Jan. 14 in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, the brief backs the railroad’s appeal in CSX Transportation, Inc. v. Gilkison.

In September 2009, U.S. District Court Judge Frederick Stamp in Wheeling, W.V., dismissed CSX’s fraud and conspiracy complaint filed against a law firm now known as Robert Peirce & Associates, and Dr. Ray Harron, the radiologist used to screen test results for evidence of asbestos-related diseases. As WVNS-TV reported in October, “CSX Transportation Files Appeal in Dismissed Peirce Lawsuit”:

The company filed suit in 2005, alleging that Peirce’s staff and Harron had conspired with a union organizer, Robert Gilkison, and ex-railroad employees, Ricky May and Daniel Jayne, to fake asbestos screenings in order to win cash settlements from the company. Two years later they added a fraud claim against Earl Baylor, another former employee, again alleging that test results had been falsified for financial gain…A federal court jury cleared Gilkison and Peirce in August and said the worker and law firm bared no responsibility for the phony X-ray in an asbestos suit…A second trial involving Harron and the Peirce firm was supposed to go to trial Sept. 15 in connection with the Baylor case. However, Stamp cancelled the trial Sept. 1 in after granting their petitions for summary judgment.

The amicus brief relates the history of rampant, coordinated asbestos fraud in arguing that CSX’s suit should be allowed to proceed. Others joining the brief are the American Tort Reform Association, the Coalition for Litigation Justice, Inc., Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, and the Association of American Railroads. Counsel of record is Mark Behrens of Shook, Hardy & Bacon.

The NAM’s Legal Beagle search engine summarizes the association’s involvement, and the brief is available here.

The Washington Legal Foundation filed its own amicus brief on Jan. 19. LegalNewsline, a Chamber-supported publication, also has a good report on the litigation, “Groups line up to support CSX asbestos appeal.”

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