Appeal Court Unties Two Asbestos Suits

Posted on Tuesday, 06 November 2007

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The Recorder

By Mathhew Hirsch

November 6, 2007


A San Francisco Superior Court judge who combined two different asbestos suits for trial in front of the same jury will have to conduct separate trials after all.

In an unpublished ruling (Callaw Writ Decision) issued Friday, the First District Court of Appeal ordered Judge Tomar Mason to vacate an order consolidating a living plaintiff's kidney cancer suit with a dead plaintiff's mesothelioma suit.

The appeal court looked at eight criteria used to decide whether asbestos cases should be consolidated and found that "virtually all" favor separate trials. The only factor supporting consolidation was that the same lawyer, Brayton Purcell's Gilbert Purcell, represented all plaintiffs.


Edward Hugo, the defense attorney who challenged Mason's order, said he hopes the First District will publish its ruling if it is not appealed to the California Supreme Court.

From his experience, Hugo said, the San Francisco Superior Court considers only three factors when deciding whether to consolidate asbestos suits for trial: whether the plaintiffs' counsel are the same, whether the plaintiffs are living or dead, and the disease type at issue.


"The rest of the factors," he said, "remain virtually unconsidered."


The case is Foster Wheeler v. Superior Court (San Francisco), A119429.


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