Asbestos attorneys say time should've run out on fraud claim

John O'Brien Sep. 20, 2011, 12:37pm

U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit

NEW ORLEANS (Legal Newsline) - Two asbestos attorneys fighting a fraud verdict against them say a railroad company missed the statute of limitations in suing them.

William Guy and Thomas Brock filed their reply brief Monday, asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit to overturn the fraud verdict reached last year by a Mississippi federal court jury. The two are alleged to have concealed two of their clients' previous involvements in a mass action.

Illinois Central's complaint alleged the company would not have been obligated to pay $210,000 in settlements had it known that Willie Harried joined a mass action, titled Cosey, in 1995 and Warren Turner in 1996. Guy and Brock say the company found this out no later than Feb. 13, 2004.

"Distractingly, Illinois Central asserts that it 'sued Harried and Turner within three years of learning of their fraud," the reply brief says. "That is beside the point.

"The judgment is against Guy and Brock, not Harried and Turner. Illinois Central did not sue Guy and Brock until early 2008, a full year after it sued Harried and Turner."

Guy and Brock have also argued that Illinois Central filed its fraud lawsuit in federal court only because of adverse rulings from the Mississippi Supreme Court in related cases.

Also at issue is a partial award of attorneys fees to Illinois Central..

Three months after Guy and Brock filed their appeal brief with the Fifth Circuit, Illinois Central filed a response in August that argued the attorneys' jurisdictional challenge has no merit.

"It is undisputed that the District Court had original diversity jurisdiction over Illinois Central Railroad Company's fraud claims against William Guy and Thomas Brock," says the brief, filed Aug. 12. "After the jury found that Guy and Brock had defrauded IC, Guy and Brock raised for the first time a hodgepodge of arguments which they have characterized as jurisdictional challenges (likely due to their late appearance)."

As for the statute of limitations issue, Illinois Central argues the attorneys concealed their roles in helping Harried and Turner obtain their second settlements, and the statute should not have started running until later.

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