Heather Isringhausen Gvillo Aug. 21, 2014, 10:05am

ST. LOUIS (Legal Newsline) – HarrisMartin Publishing is hosting an asbestos conference in St. Louis next month with Madison County’s Judge Stephen Stobbs scheduled to speak about the county’s growing asbestos docket.

The HarrisMartin Midwest Asbestos Litigation Conference will be held at the Four Seasons Hotel in St. Louis on Sept. 18.

The conference kicks off with welcoming remarks from co-chairs Amy E. Garrett of the Simmons, Hanly, Conroy law firm and Brenda G. Baum of HeplerBroom.

Speakers throughout the day will discuss everything from growing trends in asbestos litigation nationally to what’s new in the local asbestos dockets as well as what to watch out for in the future of the asbestos tort system.

Below is a detailed description of the conference agenda.

Issues in Navy cases

This section will address the use of military records in asbestos cases, as well as the government contractor defense and removal to federal court.

The government contractor defense allows defendants to remove asbestos cases to federal court on the premise that they were acting in accordance with government requirements or specifications when manufacturing, selling or distributing asbestos-containing products.

Speakers include plaintiff attorney Randy S. Cohn of the Simmons, Hanly, Conroy law firm in Alton, Ill., and defense attorney Michael W. Newport of Foley & Mansfield in St. Louis.

Bostic Causation – Texas and Beyond

The Bostic decision came out of the Texas Supreme Court on July 11 and addressed the “every exposure" theory. The court held that simply offering evidence of exposure regarding a dose-related disease should not imply automatic liability.

“We fail to see how the theory can, as a matter of logic, exclude higher than normal background levels as the cause of the plaintiff’s disease, but accept that any exposure from an individual defendant, no matter how small, should be accepted as a cause in face of the disease,” the court held.

Speakers include defense attorney Kenneth D. Rhodes of Gray, Reed & McGraw in Houston and plaintiff attorney J. Kyle Beale of The Karst & von Oiste Law Firm in Houston.

They will discuss adopting and rejecting jurisdictions, offensive use including choice of law and historical analysis of appellate trends and jury verdicts.

The speakers will also discuss the “substantial factor” vs. the “but for causation” tests.

In addition to the “every exposure theory,” the court also addressed causation standards in Bostic. The “but for causation” test attempts to determine the actual causation by asking if the injury would have still occurred without the existence of a defendant’s actions. The Bostic court concluded that the test is humanly impossible to prove, as it is difficult to establish which fibers from which defendant actually caused the injury.

On the other hand, the substantial factor test is used when several factors could have contributed to an injury and asks if the defendant’s actions were a substantial player in causing harm.

“[S]ubstantial factor causation ‘denotes the fact that the defendant’s conduct has such an effect in producing the harm as to lead reasonable men to regard it as a cause, using the word in the popular sense, in which there always lurks the idea of responsibility, rather than in the so-called ‘philosophic sense,’ which includes every one of the great number of events without which any happening would not have occurred,’” the court held in Bostic.

Decisions in Illinois and Missouri – What’s New?

Speaker Patrick W. Stufflebeam of HeplerBroom in Edwardsville, Ill., will discuss objections to jurisdiction, workers compensation exclusivity and premises liability cases.

Ethics and Illinois Rules of Professional Conduct

Speaker Sharon Opryszek, Senior Litigation Counsel for the Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission in Chicago, will discuss referral fees, changes in pro hac rules and requirements for client trust accounts.

Pro hac vice allows attorneys who are not members of a specific state bar to appear in a pending lawsuit as long as the attorney meets licensure and other eligibility requirements.

St. Louis: A Growing Asbestos Injury Jurisdiction

Discussions involving local St. Louis asbestos trends will center around current filings and verdicts as well as venue and choice of law.

Speakers include defense attorney Lindsay A. Dibler of Kurowski Shultz in St. Louis and plaintiff attorney Melissa Crowe Schopfer of the Simmons, Hanly, Conroy law firm in Alton.

Replacement Part Cases

Replacement parts refer to products that are purchased with a certain type of part, which wears down and needs consistently needs replaced. As a result, the alleged asbestos exposure may have been caused by a replacement part rather than the original product.

Speakers include defense attorney Tobin Taylor of Heyl, Royster, Voelker & Allen in Chicago and plaintiff attorney Nathaniel Mudd of Maune, Raichle, Hartley, French & Mudd in Edwardsville. They will discuss recent trends and decisions.

Asbestos Cases in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois

This discussion will focus on scheduling, discovery orders and knowing local rules. The speakers will also discuss Rule 26 disclosures. According to Rule 26, a party must disclose contact information for anyone likely to have discoverable information; all documents the disclosing party has in its possession that may be used to support its claims or defenses; and insurance agreements, among others.

The speakers include Jude Stephen C. Williams of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, plaintiff attorney Allyson Romani of Shrader & Associates in Glen Carbon, Ill., and defense attorney Anita M. Kidd of the Armstrong Teasdale law firm in St. Louis.

Settlements in Asbestos Cases

Clayton Starnes, Vice President of Business Development at Shapiro Settlement Solutions in Austin, Texas, will be the only speaker to discuss asbestos settlements. He will discuss lien resolution and Medicare-liability set asides for 2014 and beyond. Medicare set asides are when the plaintiff receives an award to pay for future medical expenses that would have been covered by Medicare.

Motion Practice in Madison County, Ill.

The day will conclude with a discussion dedicated entirely to Madison County. This portion will focus on recent motion practices to expedite and add cases to trial dockets as well as motions to accelerate participation in plaintiff depositions. The speakers will also address application of foreign law and summary judgment.

The speakers include Stobbs, who currently presides over the asbestos docket in Madison County, defense attorney George Kiser of HeplerBroom in Edwardsville and plaintiff attorney Sara M. Salger of Gori, Julian & Associates in Edwardsville.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Heather Isringhausen Gvillo at asbestos@legalnewsline.com

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