Court Upholds Rules for Mesothelioma Victims Too Sick for Extensive Testimony

Malignant mesothelioma is a cruel disease that causes great pain and claims its victims’ lives too quickly. It is caused by exposure to asbestos, and as a result people diagnosed with the disease frequently pursue lawsuits against companies that negligently exposed them to the toxic substance. These lawsuits are often complicated by the medical fragility of the plaintiffs. In recent litigation an asbestos company attempted to bypass special court rules established to prevent further suffering for victims, but the Court of Appeals of California put a stop to their attempt, asserting that the rules were based in “principles of fairness and decency.”

California State Law Limits Testimony Time for Mesothelioma Victims

The case involved 72-year-old mesothelioma victim Edward Richards, who filed a claim against 105 defendants he believes exposed him to asbestos. Because Richards’ physician indicated that he had just six months to live, his case was expedited and he both provided written discovery and made himself available for deposition testimony. Though he provided 14 hours of testimony, one of the defendants, Cahill Construction, indicated that they needed even more time to question him. When the court denied them that access based on existing California law, the company sued the court.

Court of Appeals Cites “Unambiguous” Law and Tendency to Harass Mesothelioma Victims

The law that limits victim testimony to no more 14 hours was written with specific circumstances in mind: that the case must be “for injury or illness that results in mesothelioma” and that a licensed physician must have raised “substantial medical doubt of their survival beyond six months.” In denying Cahill Construction’s petition for an exception to the rule, the California Court of Appeals called the law’s language “unambiguous” and explained that it was intended to act as a block to defendants who wish to “stall litigation or needlessly harass plaintiffs.” The 14 hours of deposition testimony and the written discovery provided will need to be enough for the company to work with.

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Paul Danziger

Paul Danziger


Paul Danziger grew up in Houston, Texas and earned a law degree from Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago. For over 25 years years he has focused on representing mesothelioma cancer victims and others hurt by asbestos exposure. Paul and his law firm have represented thousands of people diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer, recovering significant compensation for injured clients. Every client is extremely important to Paul and he will take every call from clients who want to speak with him. Paul and his law firm handle mesothelioma cases throughout the United States.

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