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Location: Houston, Texas, United States

My name is David Stone. I live in Houston, Texas. I am a 30-something single white male. I am an Orthodox Christian and am a member of an English-language parish of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR).

Monday, September 05, 2005

Asbestosis Claims Questioned

Asbestosis claims questioned

Judge Jack orders silicosis plaintiffs to submit records
By Neal Falgoust Caller-TimesAugust 26, 2005

A plaintiffs' attorney in the silicosis litigation before U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack said many of his clients filed questionable asbestosis claims before filing their silicosis claims. But he said he is certain that their most recent claims are legitimate.

Jack ordered that those plaintiffs hand over any documents, including diagnosis reports and X-rays, related to their previous asbestosis claims. Those documents must be sent to Corpus Christi by Sept. 6.

In explaining the dual diagnoses, plaintiffs' attorney Richard Laminack said, "I think the explanation in a lot of the cases is that the asbestosis diagnosis is wrong."

Silicosis is a potentially fatal lung disease caused by exposure to silica dust, which is used in sandblasting and other manufacturing process. Asbestosis also is a potentially fatal lung disease, but it is caused by exposure to asbestos fibers, which are found in insulation. Though the two diseases are similar, medical experts have testified in Jack's court that they rarely, if ever, occur together in the same patient. Doctors also said the diseases appear differently on X-rays.

Thousands of plaintiffs have filed lawsuits around the country claiming they were injured by exposure to silica dust. Their cases have been consolidated in Jack's Corpus Christi courtroom for pretrial purposes.

Defense attorneys in the case have uncovered evidence that at least half of the silicosis clients previously made claims of asbestosis. They say that shows the insincerity of the current litigation in Jack's court.

Jack's most recent order came after a Monday hearing in which she questioned Laminack about the validity of some of the claims made by his clients. Laminack represents about 100 people in the case Alexander v. Air Liquide America Corp.

During the hearing, defense attorneys said 82 Alexander plaintiffs recently filed new diagnoses of silicosis. Of those, 60 previously filed claims for asbestosis.

Laminack then suggested the previous asbestosis diagnoses were incorrect.

"I doubt the diagnoses," he said.

Jack also said the questions about the diagnoses would affect the credibility of Laminack's clients.

"That would be a shame, wouldn't it," she said. "That your clients made fraudulent claims in asbestosis and now those same people who made fraudulent claims are trying to make another claim here."

Jack also used her most recent order to criticize the practice of another plaintiff attorney, Scott Hooper, whom she threatened to hold in contempt of court on Monday. Hooper admitted to removing more than 1,000 X-rays from a secure depository.

Jack said his actions violated a court order and told Hooper to return the X-rays before returning to Houston. Hooper returned the X-rays the same day. Outside Jack's courtroom Hooper said her contempt-ofcourt threat was a "continued abuse of her authority."

In the order, filed Tuesday, Jack said Hooper failed to return 123 X-rays and said the matter would be revisited during a hearing scheduled for Sept. 26.

A final footnote in Jack's order ended, "In the future, the Court would like Mr. Hooper to form a closer relationship with the law."


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