John O'Brien Jun. 24, 2015, 9:57am


NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) – The doctor who is alleged to have steered mesothelioma patients to the law firm of then-New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver treated a now-deceased man 22 days before Silver’s firm filed a lawsuit on the man’s behalf that resulted in an $11 million verdict.

Research conducted by Legal Newsline shows that Arthur Juni was treated by Dr. Robert Taub in July 2012, three weeks before Weitz & Luxenberg filed a lawsuit on his behalf. The multimillion-dollar verdict awarded by a jury two years later was overturned by a judge in April, a decision Weitz & Luxenberg is currently appealing.

Silver was indicted earlier this year and is alleged to have traded state funds used for research for referrals of mesothelioma patients.Silver

Silver is accused of using his position in state government to earn millions of dollars in referral fees.

Juni was first treated in June 2012 at Nyack Hospital, where he was diagnosed with mesothelioma after a biopsy. Dr. Mark Ginsburg referred Juni to Taub, who worked at Columbia University at the time.

Taub’s initial consultation took place on July 2, 2012, and Weitz & Luxenberg filed Juni’s lawsuit on July 24.

Taub continued to treat Juni’s condition until Juni passed away on March 15, 2014. He died days before a trial in the New York City Asbestos Litigation system was scheduled to begin.

In May 2014, a NYCAL jury awarded $8 million for pain and suffering and $3 million to Juni’s widow.

Among other things, Silver is accused of steering state funds to Taub, who headed a mesothelioma research facility at Columbia University until Silver’s arrest. According to the New York Post, Taub is a cooperating witness for federal prosecutors.

Silver was “of counsel” at Weitz & Luxenberg until his arrest. Taub is referred to as “Doctor-1” in the criminal complaint.

Grand jurors indicted Silver, finding he deprived citizens of his honest services by masking bribes and kickbacks as legitimate income.

They found he had no prior experience in asbestos cases, had no contact with clients, did not evaluate claims and did not advise attorneys at Weitz & Luxenberg, which has denied knowledge of the alleged scheme.

Jurors found he went to great lengths to conceal his relationship with Taub.

They also found he kept secret from Weitz & Luxenberg that he allocated state funds to the doctor’s research center.

Silver has moved to dismiss the indictment. Taub is suing Columbia for firing him in the wake of Silver’s arrest.

In addition to the $11 million verdict in Juni’s case, settlements reached with several defendants resulted in more than $1.7 million. Those defendants were Massey Ferguson, Borg Warner Corp., Caterpillar, Dana Companies, Fel-Pro, Honeywell, International Truck and Engine Corp. and Lipe Rollaway.

In April, Judge Barbara Jaffe granted Ford’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict and dismissed the complaint.

“The Court misapprehended the relevant law and overlooked the critical facts, improperly invaded the jury’s province, and erroneously failed to view the evidence in the light most favorable to the nonmovant,” Alani Golanski of Weitz & Luxenberg wrote.

Ford argued that the opinions of Juni’s expert witnesses on causation lacked a sufficient foundation and were based on invalid assumptions.

One of the witnesses’ opinion that his exposure to asbestos contained in brakes, clutches or gaskets sold by Ford was a substantial factor in causing his illness was “mostly based on hypothetical facts she was instructed to assume,” Jaffe wrote.

“Although there may be cases where it will be difficult or impossible to quantify a plaintiff’s exposure to a toxin, the Parker Court held that some quantification is nonetheless necessary for a plaintiff to prove causation,” Jaffe added.

“Therefore, that the plaintiff’s burden of establishing that a particular exposure to asbestos was the cause of his mesothelioma is satisfied by an expert’s opinion that a cumulative exposure to asbestos, no matter how small and without any quantification, was a substantial contributing factor to the development of a plaintiff’s mesothelioma, is contrary to New York law…”

From Legal Newsline: Reach editor John O’Brien at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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