Judge orders civility lessons for asbestos attorneys

Michael P. Tremoglie Sep. 6, 2011, 12:51pm


WILMINGTON, Del. (Legal Newsline) - Delaware Superior Court Judge Peggy L. Ableman ordered two opposing lawyers in asbestos litigation to attend a mandatory civility course over the Labor Day weekend.

A letter addressed to attorneys Loreta P. Rufo and David W. deBruin suggested they needed a refresher course in civility.

In the Sept. 1 letter, which was posted in Abovethelaw.com, Ableman wrote, "In view of the recent correspondence regarding the Anderson and Morgan trials, the Court has decided that it is necessary to invite all counsel...to appear at the New Castle County Courthouse in Wilmington, Delaware on Sunday September 4, 2011...for a 'special' emergency refresher course on first year ethics and civility."

Ableman went on to say that the invitees should bring whatever they needed for a long overnight engagement. Among the subjects to be addressed were:

- "The importance of civility and professionalism when litigating in the Courts of Delaware;

- The consequences of knowingly making misrepresentations in pleadings, filings and correspondence with the Court;

- The expectations of Delaware Superior Court judges in connection with the preparation for and presentation of asbestos litigation; and

- Why it is not professional to whine or complain...about the amount of work this Court requires or that asbestos litigation entails, particularly in light of the excessively large amount of fees generated by this litigation (emphasis added)."

The judge informed the attorneys that there would be no credit or grades given for her course. She said that while the attorneys may be inconvenienced because of the short notice and the holiday weekend she, too, also had plans. She also noted that the demands of the litigation were as rigorous as the demands she has imposed on them.

According to an article in the Sept. 2 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Delaware Superior Court's Presiding Judge, James T. Vaughn, Jr., has now taken control of the case.

"I assign the above two cases to myself...the Sunday, September 4, 2011 session called by Judge Ableman is cancelled," Judge Vaughn wrote to the attorneys involved.

"At this point, I am not going to make a comment about it," said Debruin who is the attorney for the plaintiff.

Ableman declined to comment.

Rufo did not respond to a request for comment by the time this article went to press.

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