May 10, 2004 - Judge Refuses to Table Asbestos Suits

A request to create a separate docket for plaintiffs with asbestos related illnesses was denied by a Texas judge. State District Judge Mark Davidson stated that creating a docket for the "unimpaired" would be a violation of the Texas Constitution.

"At some point in the future, the number of cases filed which could qualify for assignment to an unimpaired docket could result in a denial of right to court access in other cases in which impairment is agreed to exist," Davidson wrote. "It cannot be said that this is the case at this time for cases filed since September 1, 2003."

The defendant companies, including DuPont, General Electric, Dow Chemical, Union Carbide and CenterPoint Energy, argue that a separate docket would prioritize cases involving seriously ill plaintiffs. Persons placed on the inactive docket would maintain their legal cases, but their lawsuits would not proceed until they had developed asbestos-related sicknesses. The defendant companies have said they will appeal the judge's decision.

The ruling will apply only to cases filed since September 1 of 2003. Over 300 asbestos cases have been transferred to Davidson's court.

More than 600,000 asbestos-related lawsuits have been filed nationwide, many by people who have not developed symptoms of asbestos-related illness. About a third of those cases were filed in Texas.


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