Baron & Budd Earns Selection in National Survey as One of the Leading Mass Tort/Class Action Firms in U.S.

Baron & Budd Attorneys Named Texas Super Lawyers for 2006

Baron & Budd, P.C. Attorney Alan Rich to Speak At Mealey’s Asbestos Bankruptcy Conference

US: Toxic sites' cleanup at risk.  Mexican purchaser of Asarco accused of crafty plan to shed its liability.

Eight Baron & Budd Attorneys Earn "D Magazine" Honors

Texas Super Lawyers Honors 27 from Baron & Budd

Baron & Budd Attorney Alan Rich to Speak at Mealey's Insurance Solvency & Reinsurance Roundtable Conference

Baron & Budd, P.C. Attorneys Lisa Blue and Alan Rich to Speak at the 13th Annual Bench/Bar Conference of the Dallas Bar Association

Twenty-six Baron & Budd Attorneys Named "Texas Super Lawyers"

Baron & Budd Attorney Alan Rich to Speak at Mealeys National Asbestos Litigation Conference

Did Dick Cheney Sink Halliburton (And Will It Sink Him?)

Foundry workers exposed to asbestos: Failure to comply with respiratory safety requirements: Asbestosis: Verdict

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Tyler Pipe Staff Awarded $26M in TX for Exposure

LA Jury Returns Death Verdict against Flexitallic

Jury awards man $2 million

Trustees rehire law firm under fears of suit

School board rule on speakers upheld



Baron & Budd Earns Selection in National Survey as One of the Leading Mass Tort/Class Action Firms in U.S.

June 22, 2007

Dallas-based Baron & Budd, P.C. has earned selection to The Legal 500 listing of the country's top law firms based on the firm's work in mass tort claims and class action litigation.

Baron & Budd is included in The Legal 500's recently published third volume, which ranks the country's top litigation firms. Firm clients, other attorneys and judges were interviewed by The Legal 500 staff to determine which firms would be included in the listing.

Baron & Budd is ranked as one of the top three law firms in the nation for toxic tort claims.

Russell Budd, managing shareholder of Baron & Budd, is noted in the publication for his "considerable renown for his trial and negotiation abilities." Firm attorney Alan Rich also is highlighted as a "heavyweight in the asbestos and toxic tort arena."

"We are honored to be recognized for the legal accomplishments of our many fine attorneys," says Mr. Budd. "I believe the talent and achievements of our attorneys truly qualify our firm as one of the top mass tort/class action firms in the country, and it is very nice to receive the recognition from a publication like The Legal 500."

In addition to highlighting Mr. Budd and Mr. Rich, the publication also notes Baron & Budd's extensive work in asbestos-related cases, water contamination claims, and incidences of exposure to hazardous materials in the workplace


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Baron & Budd Attorneys Named Texas Super Lawyers for 2006
Russell Budd Honored among Top 10 Super Lawyers in Texas
Law & Politics Media, Inc.

October 2006

Several Baron & Budd Attorneys have been named "Texas Super Lawyers" for 2006 by Law & Politics Media and Texas Monthly Magazine.

Russell Budd received the distinction of being named one of the Top Ten Texas Super Lawyers for 2006.  Russell Budd was also named to the Top 100 list. Russell Budd, Alan Rich, and Brent Rosenthal were named to the list of Top 100 Super Lawyers in the Dallas/Fort Worth region.


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Baron & Budd, P.C. Attorney Alan Rich to Speak At Mealey’s Asbestos Bankruptcy Conference

DALLAS, Texas June 8, 2006 - Alan Rich, an attorney with the law firm of Baron & Budd, P.C., will speak at the Mealey’s Asbestos Bankruptcy Conference held today and tomorrow in Chicago.

Rich will present today on the topic of “Bolt-On Bankruptcy Cases: Enjoining the Liability.” Rich was named to a list of top bankruptcy attorneys in the Dallas-Fort Worth region by D Magazine in 2005.


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US: Toxic sites' cleanup at risk

Mexican purchaser of Asarco accused of crafty plan to shed its liability

by Les Blumenthal, The Sacramento Bee
March 27th, 2006
It is one of Mexico's most low-profile companies, run by a politically connected family that is no stranger to the bare-knuckles world of international mining.

Now, Grupo Mexico S.A. de C.V. could find itself at the center of the bankruptcy reorganization of Asarco, a century-old American mining and smelting company whose liabilities include the environmental cleanup of 94 Superfund sites in 21 states. The two California sites are in Redding and the East Bay city of Rodeo.

The stakes are high. The bill to clean up Asarco's environmental contamination could total more than $1 billion, according to court filings. Depending on what happens in the bankruptcy reorganization, U.S. taxpayers ultimately could be responsible for the tab.

In addition, more than 85,000 asbestos exposure-related claims worth an estimated $500 million have been filed against Asarco, and more are expected.

Over the coming months, lawyers have said in court documents, they will try to convince a federal bankruptcy judge in Texas that Grupo Mexico "systematically cannibalized" Asarco since buying it six years ago and should be ordered to help cover its debts.

"They stole the piggy bank," said John Tate, a San Antonio lawyer representing asbestos claimants in the reorganization. "Absolutely we will go after them. They are the deep pockets."

Asarco lawyers dismiss the claims as "innuendo and speculation."

The Asarco saga, however, is about more than just the financial collapse of a once-profitable company following its unexpected takeover. It is also about more than corporate maneuvering to gain control of some of the world's most valuable copper mines high in the Andes of Peru.

The Asarco bankruptcy reorganization has exposed weaknesses in one of the nation's premier environmental programs: the Superfund.

The fund was created in 1980 to clean up the nation's legacy of toxic pollution. It was financed with a special corporate tax that expired in 1995.

The Superfund's $3.8 billion surplus has been spent, and the program now lives off annual appropriations from Congress. Unless Congress approves another funding mechanism, taxpayers will increasingly pay for the environmental cleanups.

Asarco's reorganization will only add to the burden.

Grupo Mexico's takeover of Asarco in 1999 set off warning bells in the EPA and the Justice Department.

Asarco was considered an attractive takeover target because of its 54 percent interest in the Southern Peru Copper Co. The Peruvian company owns two mines in South America's rich copper belt and in 1999 had announced the discovery of major new reserves.

Federal regulators were concerned about Asarco's mounting environmental liabilities and a balance sheet that was steadily tipping toward insolvency. But they were powerless to stop the takeover.

Founded in the 1950s by Jorge Larrea Ortega, Grupo Mexico is the third-largest copper producer in the world, controls Mexico's largest and most profitable railroad and reportedly is interested in buying Aeromexico, one of Mexico's major airlines.

Larrea died in 1999 at age 87, and the company now is run by his son, German Larrea Mota-Velasco. As major players in the international mining market, the family is considered sophisticated and shrewd. But it is a cutthroat industry.

In filings in the Texas bankruptcy court and in a New York case, lawyers for the asbestos claimants allege that Grupo Mexico's "bust-up" acquisition of Asarco was aimed squarely at acquiring control of the Peruvian mines.

Within days of the takeover in November 1999, Grupo Mexico named some of its corporate officers, including Larrea, to top positions at Asarco. Grupo moved Asarco's corporate offices from New York to Phoenix, where it shared office space with another Grupo mining subsidiary, Americas Mining Corp.

Less than a month later, Asarco began selling its non-mining assets to pay for its own takeover, the asbestos lawyers claim. Asarco sold its specialty chemicals division, Enthone, for $503 million and its aggregates division, American Limestone, for $211 million. The proceeds from both sales were used to pay for Grupo Mexico's buyout of Asarco.

The asbestos lawyers allege the "fire sales" of Enthone and American Limestone exacerbated Asarco's financial problems and served as a prelude to Grupo Mexico's plan to acquire control of Asarco's "crown jewel": the Southern Peruvian Copper Co.

Takeovers often are financed by selling a company's assets. But such a move could be illegal, under certain circumstances. According to court filings in the reorganization case and in another case filed by asbestos lawyers against Asarco in New York, Grupo Mexico engaged in the "fraudulent conveyance" of Asarco assets to finance its takeover and to limit future Asarco financial liabilities. Such allegations can be difficult to prove.

"It was a classic leveraged buyout carried out by the fraudulent conveyance of Asarco's assets, and they got SPCC almost for free," said Alan Rich, a Dallas lawyer representing asbestos claimants.

Grupo Mexico initially sought to purchase the Peruvian mines for $640 million in the summer of 2002, a price tag asbestos lawyers insist was outrageously low. EPA and Justice Department lawyers, in a step believed unprecedented, secured a temporary restraining order in federal court to block the sale.

EPA grew increasingly anxious about whether Asarco would be able to fulfill its written assurances to clean up its Superfund sites after the company sold its chemicals and aggregate divisions.

Asarco had approached EPA about a "global settlement" covering its environmental liabilities. With the temporary restraining order in place, government and Asarco lawyers intensified settlement negotiations.

In early 2003 they reached an agreement allowing Grupo Mexico to take control of the Peruvian mines for $765 million, $125 million more than the original purchase price. Grupo Mexico also agreed to fund a $100 million trust dedicated to cleanups at Asarco's mining and smelting sites. EPA and the Justice Department agreed not to pursue any enforcement actions against Asarco for three years.

"EPA and the Justice Department took a pittance to roll over and go away," said Tate, the San Antonio asbestos claims lawyer.

In agreeing to the settlement, EPA officials said the $100 million trust was better than nothing, considering Asarco was in financial turmoil.

"The United States believed at the time and continues to believe that the settlement was in the best interest of maximizing environmental cleanups," said Cynthia Magnuson, a Justice Department spokeswoman.

The environmental trust fund could become part of the reorganization proceedings.

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Eight Baron & Budd Attorneys Earn "D Magazine" Honors

Dallas, Texas (ContentDesk) June 8, 2005 -- Eight attorneys with the law firm of Baron & Budd, P.C. have been selected to the "D Magazine" list of "Best Lawyers in Dallas" for 2005. Attorneys named to list in their respective areas of practice are Fred Baron (environmental law), Russell Budd (personal injury law), Brent Rosenthal (appellate law), Lisa Blue (personal injury law), Steve Baughman Jensen (appellate law), Alan Rich (bankruptcy law), Scott Summy (environmental law), and Charla Aldous (personal injury law).The biennial listing honoring Dallas' top attorneys appears in the May 2005 issue of the magazine. Peers make nominations for the list, with final selections made by a panel of attorneys chosen by the editors of "D Magazine. Fred Baron, Russell Budd, Brent Rosenthal, Lisa Blue, and Charla Aldous are also past recipients of this honor, and Scott Summy and Steve Baughman Jensen were previously honored in D Magazine's list of "D Best 40" lawyers under the age of 40 in Dallas.


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Texas Super Lawyers Honors 27 from Baron & Budd

Honors for Top 50 Women, Top 100 Texas, Top 100 Dallas-Fort Worth.

Dallas (PRWeb) October 6, 2005 -- Twenty-seven attorneys from the Dallas office of Baron & Budd, P.C., have been named to the 2005 list of Texas Super Lawyers. Super Lawyer selections are based on peer nominations made by more than 70,000 attorneys from across the state, and fewer than 5 percent of Texas attorneys have been chosen for this honor. The Super Lawyers list appears in the October 2005 issue of Texas Monthly and Texas Super Lawyers magazines.

"To have more than a third of our attorneys named Super Lawyers is extraordinary," says managing shareholder Russell Budd. "It speaks to the great work the firm as a whole does for our clients."

In addition to Mr. Budd and firm founder Fred Baron, the following Baron & Budd attorneys also were named to this year's list: Charla Aldous, Laura Baughman, Lisa Blue, Celeste Evangelisti, Misty Farris, Ladd Gibke, Frank Goodrich, Melissa Hutts, LeAnne Jackson, Steve Baughman Jensen, Lisa Kivett, Cary McDougal, Kevin McHargue, Laurie Meggesin, Jim Piel, Lance Pool, Ellen Presby, Alan Rich, Brent Rosenthal, Ann Saucer, Mary Skelnik, John Spillane, Al Stewart, Scott Summy and Steve Wolens.

Six Baron & Budd attorneys received additional honors. Charla Aldous, Lisa Blue and Ellen Presby were named to the list of Top 50 Women attorneys in the state. Ms. Aldous, Ms. Blue, Fred Baron, Russell Budd and Brent Rosenthal also were included among the Top 100 attorneys in the state and Top 100 in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.


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Baron & Budd Attorney Alan Rich to Speak at Mealey's Insurance Solvency & Reinsurance Roundtable Conference

(PRWEB) April 15, 2005 -- Alan Rich, a shareholder with the law firm of Baron & Budd, P.C., will participate in a panel discussion on legacy claims and emerging issues at Mealey's Insurance Solvency & Reinsurance Roundtable Conference held today in Scottsdale, Arizona.

The panel will examine major claims facing the insurance and reinsurance industry, as well as the impact on the industry, including a discussion on asbestos litigation.

Rich is a shareholder with Baron & Budd and serves in the firm’s asbestos and toxic tort practices, concentrating on related bankruptcy, insurance and commercial litigation matters. He is Board Certified in Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.


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Baron & Budd, P.C. Attorneys Lisa Blue and Alan Rich to Speak at the 13th Annual Bench/Bar Conference of the Dallas Bar Association

(PRLEAP.COM) DALLAS, Texas October 16, 2004 Attorneys Lisa Blue and Alan Rich, shareholders with the law firm of Baron & Budd, P.C. will speak at the 13th Annual Bench/Bar Conference of the Dallas Bar Association on October 14 and 15 in Lake Conroe, Texas. Baron & Budd is a Platinum Sponsor of the conference benefiting the Dallas Volunteer Attorney Program.

Blue will deliver a presentation focusing on juror psychology, juries after House Bill 4, and jurors’ privacy issues. Blue is a well known and widely respected trial attorney and psychologist. She has represented hundreds of victims of mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure and diseases caused by other toxic substances, honing her skills as an expert on jury selection.

Rich will present an ethics quiz accompanied by film clips from popular films to illustrate key points. Rich joined Baron & Budd in 1998 and serves in the firm’s asbestos and toxic tort practices, concentrating on related bankruptcy, insurance and commercial litigation matters. He is Board Certified in Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.


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Twenty-Six Baron & Budd Attorneys Named "Texas Super Lawyers"

DALLAS, TX October 1, 2004 - Baron & Budd, P.C. announced that 26 of its attorneys have been named "Texas Super Lawyers." Fred Baron, Russell Budd Brent Rosenthal, Lisa Blue, Mary Skelnik, Steve Wolens, Melissa Hutts, Steve Baughman Jensen, Al Stewary, Lisa Kivett, LeAnne Jackson, Laura Baughman, Laurie Meggesin, Ladd Gibke, Alan Rich, Ellen Presby, Scott Summy, Misty Farris, Kevin McHargue, Jim Piel, Ann Saucer, Lance Pool, Alicia Butler, John Spillane, Frank Goodrich, and Celeste Evangelisti were selected by their peers as among Texas' finest attorneys in different areas of the law.  Fred Baron, Russell Budd, Brent Rosenthal, and Lisa Blue were also named to the list of "Top 100 Dallas/Fort Worth Super Lawyers." Lisa Blue, Ellen Presby, and Mary Skelnik were also recognized as three of the "Top 50 Female Super Lawyers" in Texas. The second annual list honoring the state's top attorneys in more than 50 areas of practice appears in this month's issues of Texas Monthly and Texas Super Lawyers, a joint project of the publishers of Texas Monthly and Law & Politics Media, Inc.                                         ___________________________

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Baron & Budd Attorney Alan Rich to Speak at Mealeys National Asbestos Litigation Conference

DALLAS, TX (PRWEB) September 20, 2004 -- Alan Rich, a shareholder with the law firm of Baron & Budd, P.C., will today discuss asbestos appellate rulings during the past year at Mealeys National Asbestos Litigation Conference at the Westin Hotel in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Rich will present the analysis and review of important appellate decisions pertaining to asbestos personal injury cases, significant appellate decisions pertaining to pending asbestos-related bankruptcies, and the ongoing appellate process related to the recusal of the presiding judge in the major Delaware asbestos bankruptcies.

Rich joined Baron & Budd in 1998 and serves in the firm's asbestos and toxic tort practices, concentrating on related bankruptcy, insurance and commercial litigation matters. He is Board Certified in Appellate Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.


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Read the October, 2002 Texas Monthly article titled “Did Dick Cheney Sink Halliburton (And Will It Sink Him?),” where Alan is quoted on issues related to the Halliburton Bankruptcy proceedings:



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Foundry workers exposed to asbestos: Failure to comply with respiratory safety requirements: Asbestosis: Verdict

Law Reporter,  APR 2001 

Blackburn v. Swan Transp. Co., Tex., Dallas County 116th Jud. Dist. Ct., No. 98-03696-F, Aug. 25, 2000.

Blackburn, 71; Barrett, 56; Davis, 68; Dews, 71; Green, 65; Ivy, 54; and Johnson, 75, were employees at an iron foundry. They were all allegedly exposed to asbestos through various products used at the foundry, including refractory, insulating cement, and cloth. All of the workers developed asbestosis.

The workers sued the foundry's parent company, alleging that defendant controlled the foundry's safety procedures, budget, and purchases. Plaintiffs claimed that since defendant undertook such responsibilities, it had a duty to make appropriate safety arrangements. Plaintiffs alleged that defendant failed to notify employees about the presence of asbestos.

Plaintiffs also alleged that defendant violated the Occupational Safety and Health Act, 29 U.S.C. sec 651 et seq., by failing to (1) provide appropriate respiratory protection to employees, (2) monitor asbestos levels at the iron foundry, and (3) provide foundry employees with appropriate medical monitoring.

Plaintiffs made no claim for past lost wages.

A jury awarded plaintiffs about $17 million, including about $3.13 million to Ivy, about $2.66 million to Barrett, $2.51 million to Blackburn, about $2.38 million to Johnson, about $2.33 million to Dews, $2.1 million to Green, and about $1.95 million to Davis.

Plaintiffs' experts included William Longo, materials science, Atlanta, Ga.; Vernon Rose, industrial hygiene, Houston, Tex.; Alan Eggleston, environmental factors, Austin, Tex.; Peter Petroff, pulmonology, San Antonio, Tex.; and David Egilman, medicine, Boston, Mass.

Defendant's expert witnesses in this case included Daniel Lain, accounting, Dallas, Tex.; Samuel Cade, radiology, Dallas, Tex.; and Gail Stockman, pulmonology, Longview, Tex.

Plaintiffs' Counsel *Richard I. Nemeroff, *Alan B. Rich, and *Troy D. Chandler, all of Dallas, Tex.

Comment: For another case in which plaintiffs alleged a parent company was liable for its employees' asbestos-- related injuries, see Dews v. Swan Transp. Co., 44 ATLA L. Rep. 30 (Feb. 2001). Plaintiffs in Dews v. Swan Transp. Co. were represented by *Lisa Blue, *Troy D. Chandler, and *Alan B. Rich, all of Dallas, Tex.; and *Collen Clark, Tyler, Tex.

Copyright Association of Trial Lawyers of America Apr 2001. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning Company. All rights Reserved


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C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

Wednesday, October 18, 2000, Vol. 2, No. 203

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: Tyler Pipe Staff Awarded $26M in TX for Exposure

Twice in less than a week, a jury here awarded longtime employees of
Tyler Pipe Industries Inc. a multimillion-dollar award for occupational
injuries from exposure to asbestos at Tyler's iron foundry in Swan, Texas
(James E. Blackburn, et al. v. Swan Transportation Co. f/k/a/ Tyler Pipe
Industries, Inc., No. 98-03696-F; Arville Dews, et al. v. Swan
Transportation Co. f/k/a/ Tyler Pipe Industries, Inc., No. 98-40551,
Texas Dist., Smith Co.).

(Blackburn Jury Instructions in Section B. Document # 01-000901-102. Dews
Jury Instructions in Section C. Document # 01-000901-103.)

On Aug. 19, after 20 days of trial, the Smith County District Court jury
awarded $ 9 million to eight Tyler Pipe employees. Six days later, on
Aug. 25, another Smith County jury returned a $ 17 million verdict to
seven Tyler employees. The verdicts came against Tyler Pipe, which
originated in 1936 as the Tyler Iron and Foundry Co. The company later
sold the business to Swan Transportation Co.

The trials were held simultaneously. Both juries awarded the employees
compensation for pain and mental anguish, loss of earning capacity,
physical impairment and medical care.

First Trial

The first trial consisted of employees at Tyler who were exposed to
asbestos from either cleaning out cupolas by chipping out asbestos
residue, working around refractory products or burying barrels of
asbestos waste. The group, consisting of workers who were employed at
Tyler from 25 to 37 years, all currently suffer from asbestosis. They are
Arville Dews, John Hayes, Charles McClenny, Mack Miller, Robert Moore,
Arthalia Porter Jr., Clayton Seals and Lee Roy Vaughn.

At trial, the defense argued that the company never had or used asbestos
materials at Tyler Pipe and denied knowing the dangers associated with
asbestos. The defense presented expert witnesses Samuel Cade, radiologist
diagnostics, Frisco, Texas; Phillip Cagle, M.D., pathologist, Houston;
and Gayle Stockman, M.D.

Citations from the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA)
were used by the workers to rebuff the arguments made by the defense. The
workers also presented expert witnesses and provided documentation from
an environmental consultant's report to OSHA that stated that much of the
problem with worker safety "rests on basic attitudes which reflect little
knowledge of the material used in the foundry and little respect for
human health and safety."

The workers' expert witnesses included Arnold Brody, Ph.D., pathologist,
New Orleans; Vernon Rose, hygienist, Houston; Alan Eggleston,
environmental consultant, Houston; William Longo, Ph.D., electron
microscopist, Norcross, Ga.; Mark Klepper, pathologist, Austin, Texas;
Assistant U.S. Surgeon General Richard Lemen, Ph.D., Washington, D.C.;
and Steven Dikman, M.D., pathologist, New York.

The jury was asked to determine whether Tyler was a reasonably safe place
to work, if Tyler provided an adequate safety program, whether the
workers have an asbestos-related disease and, if so, was Tyler negligent
in causing that condition. The jury was then asked to determine damages
for each of the workers based on their condition.

The jury returned an 11-1 verdict in favor of the workers, with the
biggest award given to Arthalia Porter Jr. and Clayton Seals, who both
received $ 1.2 million. Attorneys for the workers had previously asked
for $ 2 million to $ 3 million per plaintiff.

Second Trial

The second Tyler trial group consisted of workers who were exposed to
asbestos from working around refractory products, insulating cements and
cloth. The members, who had a combined tenure at the company of 187
years, all currently suffer from asbestosis. They are James Blackburn,
Herman Ivy, Calvin Dews, Henry Barrett, Roosevelt Green Sr., Joseph Davis
and Johnnie Johnson.

The workers contend Tyler did not warn them that they were being exposed
to asbestos-containing products and did not offer them adequate
respiratory protection as required by OSHA. They presented several expert
witnesses, including David Egilman, M.D., epidemiologist, Providence,
R.I.; William Longo, Ph.D., electron microscopist, Norcross, Ga.; Vernon
Rose, hygienist, Houston; and Fred Dula, M.D., pulmonologist,
Springfield, Pa.

The defendant maintained that it had no knowledge of any asbestos being
used at Tyler and did not know of the dangers associated with it. Tyler
called expert witnesses Dan Lane, CPA, Houston; Samuel Cade, radiologist;
and Gail Stockman, M.D.

Deliberating for two days before delivering the 9-2 verdict in favor of
the workers, the jury was asked to decide whether or not punitive damages
should be awarded. Punitive damages were not originally sought.

Returning a $ 17 million verdict to the seven workers, the jury awarded
each plaintiff amounts ranging from $ 1.9 million to $ 3.2 million.
Attorneys for the workers had asked for $ 21 million.

In the first trial, the former Tyler employees were represented by Lisa
Blue and Tony Chandler [and Alan Rich] of Baron & Budd in Dallas. Representing Swan
Transportation Co. was Richard E. Griffin, Mary Lou Flynn-Dupart and Ric
Freeman of Jackson & Walker in Houston.

Representing the former Tyler employees in the second trial were Richard
I. Nemeroff, Alan Rich and Troy Chandler of Baron & Budd. Swan was
represented by James L. Walker and John Lancaster of Jackson & Walker.
(Mealey's Litigation Report:, Asbestos, September 1, 2000)

Copyright 1994-2008. All Rights Reserved.
Bankruptcy Creditors' Service, Inc. & Beard Group, Inc.


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C L A S S  A C T I O N  R E P O R T E R

Tuesday, March 14, 2000, Vol. 2, No. 51

ASBESTOS LITIGATION: LA Jury Returns Death Verdict against Flexitallic
A jury in Louisiana returned a verdict of $1,072,000 to the family of
Earlon Nunez as compensation for the death and physical pain caused by
his exposure to products containing asbestos manufactured by Flexitallic
Inc., a manufacturer of asbestos gaskets, and other leading
manufacturers of asbestos-containing products. The verdict is believed
to be the first ever asbestos-related death verdict taken against

According to Alan B. Rich from the law firm of Baron & Budd, lead
counsel for the Nunez family, "Day after day a family in America learns
-- painfully, that exposure to asbestos, kills. Earlon Nunez died five
months after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, but the real tragedy is
that Mr. Nunez's death was preventable. Mr. Nunez and his family have
sounded a call for justice here in Louisiana, and I hope it's been heard
by Flexitallic and every other company whose products continue to take
loved ones from us prematurely."

Until recently, Flexitallic was a member of the Center for Claims
Resolution (CCR), a consortium of twenty manufacturers of asbestos
products formed in 1988 to handle asbestos-related claims by sharing
litigation and settlement costs and assembling experts to work in their
behalf. Last year, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a class
action settlement which would have insulated CCR members from lawsuits
for asbestos-related injuries. Instead of relying on the CCR's
resources, Flexitallic mounted its own defense and assembled a select
cadre of experts for the Nunez case. Rick Nemeroff of Baron & Budd,
co-counsel for the Nunez family, said that "Mesothelioma is a
particularly pernicious disease. Symptoms can occur anywhere from twenty
to thirty or more years after exposure to asbestos. There is no cure,
but there is the hope that the heavy price paid by Mr. Nunez and his
family will save others because of greater awareness."

Mr. Nunez, a mechanic in Abbeville, Louisiana, died of mesothelioma,
caused by exposure to asbestos. As with other victims of this cancer,
Mr. Nunez was occupationally exposed to asbestos. A Navy veteran, Mr.
Nunez spent ten years as a sailor working as a boilerman below the decks
of several ships, including the USS Kyes. Evidence introduced at trial
indicated that Mr. Nunez's job required him to routinely replace gaskets
containing asbestos which were manufactured by Flexitallic.

The jury reached its verdict after determining that Mr. Nunez suffered
an asbestos-related injury that led to his death. The jury also found
"by a preponderance of the evidence" that Mr. Nunez was exposed to
asbestos- containing products manufactured by, among other companies,
Flexitallic, and that their negligence contributed to his death.

The jury awarded $600,000 for the physical pain and suffering and mental
anguish Mr. Nunez endured before his death. $190,000 was awarded for
loss of enjoyment of life as well as for medical expenses and lost
wages. Jurors also awarded his wife of twenty-three years, Christine,
$282,000 for her loss of support and companionship. In total, the jury
awarded $1,072,000 to the Nunez family. Mr. Nunez is also survived by
his son Frank Price, a paramedic in Abbeville.

Judge Byron Hebert, of the 15th Judicial District, Vermillion Parish,
presided over the seven-day trial. Jennifer A. Kinder and Lawrence
Gettys from Baron & Budd also served as co-counsel for the Nunez family.

Copyright 1994-2008. All Rights Reserved.
Bankruptcy Creditors' Service, Inc. & Beard Group, Inc.

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The Advocate (Baton Rouge, La.)

April 13, 1999

Jury awards man $2 million


Edition: The Baton Rouge Advocate
Section: News
Page: 17 C

An Iberville Parish jury decided Friday that a Baton Rouge man who suffers from terminal cancer is entitled to $2 million for being exposed to asbestos. It found Entergy partially responsible.

Jesse Watts, 64, worked for contractors that built and helped maintain the Willow Glen power plant in St. Gabriel in the 1960s and 1970s, said his attorney, Allen Rich of the Dallas law firm Baron and Budd.

Watts' work in and around the plant's boilers exposed him to asbestos that later caused a rare and fatal form of cancer that attacks the lining of his lungs, Rich said. "He's dying. He may have 18 months to two years left," Rich said.

"He's dying. He may have 18 months to two years left," Rich says.

"Because the matter is still in litigation, Entergy feels it should not make a comment," said Entergy customer service manager Bill Benedetto.

"We have not made a decision on appealing the verdict."

Entergy bought Gulf States ! Utilities, which built and operated Willow Glen, earlier this decade.

"The jury ruled that Entergy was negligent for allowing him to be exposed to asbestos," Rich said.

Copyright 1999 Capital City Press, Baton Rouge, La.



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Trustees rehire law firm under fears of suit

The Dallas Morning News (Metropolitan Section)

Tuesday, March 18, 1997


An expensive desegregation case. Never-ending battles with "watchdogs." If the Dallas school district didn't have enough legal headaches, trustees recently found themselves held hostage by their own law firm

The issue was the contract for the district's general counsel, Schwartz & Eichelbaum, P.C. Trustees approved a contract in 1991 that automatically renewed if the board didn't terminate it for cause. That meant that if the board ended the deal, Schwartz & Eichelbaum could sue the district.

Back in 1991 the board sought to save money by consolidating its legal services into one firm. The contract trustees approved then included a clause that automatically rolled over the contract at the end of four years.

"The old contract was a loser," said trustee Hollis Brashear.

"There was nothing in that contract about termination." Fearing litigation, the board decided earlier this month to negotiate with Schwartz & Eichelbaum rather than put the legal services contract out for bid, as some trustees had wanted. The firm got $650,000 a year, an increase of about $100,000 over their old contract to reflect the addition of desegregation litigation to their duties. The new contract will terminate on Aug. 31, 2001.

Schwartz & Eichelbaum is a large firm that specializes in school litigation. Locally, they handle legal work for Wilmer-Hutchins ISD.

Dennis Eichelbaum said his firm has "always provided quality and successful representation" for the Dallas district.

Several trustees, including board President Bill Keever and Roxan Staff, agreed and praised the law firm for its exemplary record for winning cases. But trustee Kathlyn Gilliam said negotiating with Schwartz & Eichelbaum was akin to dealing with blackmailers.

"It is a travesty that we would go to bat to hire an attorney that wants to sue us," Ms. Gilliam said. "We had an opportunity to take control of this the other day and we bumbled it.

Rising legal tab

As Ms. Gilliam points out, too many people see the Dallas district "as a cash cow," just waiting to be sued.

Lawsuits filed by less than a handful of people - including Don Venable, Rick Finlan and former trustee Ed Grant - are a key reason why Dallas' legal bill pushed ahead of Houston's two years ago, even though Houston is a bigger school district.

The district spent about $2 million on legal expenses last year and $2.3 million in 1994-95. That's up from only $1.1 million in 1993-94. Houston, by contrast, spent $1.7 million in 1994-95.

"The volume of litigation and legal issues this district has to handle would choke a horse," Ms. Staff said.

Some of Dallas' increase came from the desegregation case in 1994. But about one-quarter of the district's total legal bill last year was spent on about a dozen lawsuits involving the three self-styled district watchdogs. Two years ago the district hired an outside firm, Friedman & Associates, to focus on the suits.

No surprise

Alan Rich, a lawyer in Mr. Friedman's firm, says it's no surprise that Dallas, the second-largest school district in Texas, is the state leader in legal costs. "Finlan and Venable live in Dallas, not Houston," he said.

Mr. Rich contends that his firm is slowly ending the suits. But Mr. Venable says he isn't going away and expects to win a large judgment against the district.

He says he bears no responsibility for the district's rising legal bill. The district, he says, is picking on him.

"They have spent a fortune trying to stop us," Mr. Venable said.

"They look like they have a limitless amount of money to run people off."

Alexei Barrionuevo writes about the Dallas Independent School District for The Dallas Morning News


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 The Dallas Morning News

April 4, 1996

School board rule on speakers upheld

Judge backs curb on disruptive people

Author: Tracy Everbach; Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning News

Edition: HOME FINAL Section: NEWS Page: 44A

A state district judge on Wednesday declined a request from three Dallas school board critics to declare that a board policy restricting disruptive speakers violates rights to free speech.

Don Venable and Rick Finlan brought the suit along with former school board member Ed Grant. They said the school board regulation contradicts the Texas Constitution.

Judge Frank Andrews, after hearing two days of testimony, said he agreed with the school district's stand that the policy is used to maintain order during school board meetings. The rule does not violate the state constitution, he said.

The judge denied a request from school district attorneys to order Mr. Venable, Mr. Finlan and Mr. Grant to pay the district's legal fees in the case. The school district retained private lawyers from the Friedman and Associates law firm, which estimated its fees at about $9,500.

Alan B. Rich, one of the district's lawyers, said that ! Mr. Venable, Mr. Finlan and Mr. Grant are causing taxpayers to pay the fees.

"This is coming out of the public treasury," he told the judge. "It is being taken from Dallas school children."

Mr. Venable said he and fellow plaintiffs plan to appeal the judge's decision.

The plaintiffs argued that the policy, which gives the school board president the right to halt public comments at meetings if they constitute attacks on board members, was overly broad. They also contended that it gives the board president undue authority.

School board President Sandy Kress testified Wednesday that he interprets the policy to bar disruptive or threatening comments against the board or board members but not to bar criticism.

"I remember when someone in the audience made an anti-Semitic remark against me, and I was president at the time," Mr. Kress said. "The comment was stopped, but the person was not removed."

However, he said, when several protesters recently interrupted a board meeting by chanting "no justice, no peace," and alleging that nonblack board members had ignored the concerns and views of black school trustees, Mr. Kress decided to end the meeting.

"They were out of order," he said of the demonstrators

Copyright 1996 The Dallas Morning News Company


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 The Dallas Morning News

January 7, 1988


Edition: HOME FINAL Section: NEWS Page: 31A

State District Judge Adolph Canales has ruled that actor Sylvester Stallone can be sued in Texas civil court and must respond to a lawsuit filed by the Dallas manufacturer of custom-made motorcoaches.

Chuck Drury said in a July lawsuit that the star of the Rocky and Rambo movies still owes him more than $200,000 for a special motorcoach Drury delivered in the summer of 1986.

Attorneys for Stallone contended that he paid Drury what the motorcoach was worth -- $360,000 -- and that it was delivered late and in defective condition.

Lewis T. LeClair and Alan B. Rich, Dallas attorneys retained by Stallone, said their client was not under the jurisdiction of Texas courts because his residence and assets are in California.

D. Ronald Reneker, Drury's attorney, argued that Stallone could be sued in Texas because he voluntarily contracted with a Texas resident.

Copyright 1988 The Dallas Morning News Company


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