1,400 asbestos cases dismissed

Steve Korris May 21, 2010, 9:39am


CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Legal Newsline) - In a clean sweep, Ohio County, W.Va., Circuit Judge Arthur Recht disposed of about 1,400 asbestos suits that Robert Peirce of Pittsburgh filed against CSX Transportation.

At a hearing on May 17, Recht granted a motion to dismiss the suits with prejudice.

Robert Daley of Peirce's firm moved in February to dismiss them without prejudice, after Recht denied a motion to vacate rules he imposed last year.

Daley continued to resist Recht's requirement of testimony from pulmonologists, pleading that the rule exceeded standards of the Supreme Court of Appeals.

In March, Jim Turner of Huntington opposed the motion for CSX.

"Plaintiffs will be permitted to re-file their claims wherever they please and CSX, as well as the courts, will be forced to start from scratch," Turner wrote.

"Moreover, judging from past experience, if the Peirce firm remains involved, one can only assume it will do everything in its power to thwart meaningful discovery and convince the courts that its mass of cases requires mandatory mediation before discovery commences," he wrote.

He wrote that Peirce's firm submitted a fraudulent medical diagnosis bearing the name of a fictitious doctor, Oscar Frye.

Turner quoted to Recht his own order finding that although the firm didn't know about the forgery, the firm enabled the forgery.

He wrote that most cases had been pending since 2003 or before.

He wrote that the Peirce firm actively recruited clients as far away as Oregon, Texas, Missouri and New York.

He wrote that the firm opposed sending cases to home courts and appealed the issue all the way to the U. S. Supreme Court.

He wrote that the firm pushed for limited discovery and mandatory settlement conference instead of bona fide pretrial orders.

He wrote that the firm pushed mediation even after its X-ray reader, radiologist Ray Harron of Bridgeport, "was proven to be completely incredible."

He wrote that the firm never intended to subject the claims to scrutiny on the merits.

All the cases alleged asbestos disease but not malignancy. The Peirce firm continues to pursue 62 malignancy claims in Recht's court.

Recht disposed of two smaller packages, dismissing a few dozen Peirce suits against Norfolk Southern and Conrail.

Legal Newsline has ordered a transcript of the hearing.

Recht presides over Peirce cases by appointment of the Supreme Court of Appeals, where he served as justice.

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