John O'Brien Mar. 3, 2015, 1:23pm



MANHATTAN, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) – The court that hears asbestos cases in New York City has placed 108 cases on a docket designed to accommodate plaintiffs in extreme critical condition.




The New York City Asbestos Litigation Court selected cases filed by 11 different firms for its April In Extremis Cluster, led by Weitz & Luxenberg’s 56 cases.




The In Extremis Cluster is a group selected twice a year to include the sickest plaintiffs.




The amount of cases placed in the cluster is 35 more than October’s, but down 23 from the April 2014 cluster’s 131.




Weitz & Luxenberg originally submitted 67 cases for the April 2015 cluster, but the number was reduced by 11 after the defendants submitted their objections.




Other firms with cases placed in the cluster include:




-The Williams Law Firm, 11 cases;




-Levy Kongsberg, 10 cases;




-Belluck & Fox, nine cases; and




-Early Lucarelli Sweeney & Strauss, six cases.




In December, NYCAL was named the No. 1 Judicial Hellhole by the American Tort Reform Association in its annual report.




On Monday, it was announced that Justice Sherry Heitler, who reintroduced punitive damages in asbestos cases, was being replaced after her retirement by Justice Peter Moulton.




The court has made headlines in the wake of the arrest of former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was listed as of counsel at the Weitz firm.




Silver is accused of steering state funding to a doctor whose asbestos research center referred patients to Weitz, resulting in millions in fees for Silver. 




That physician, Dr. Robert Taub, 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. 




The firm says it did not know of the alleged scheme.




Another Post article said the firm received preferential treatment in the court.




Clients of the firm make up 52 percent of the In Extremis Cluster, down six percent from the two previous clusters.




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


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