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February 10th, 2015

Is Heat Brought by Former Speaker Silver’s Indictment Making NYCAL Judges Think Twice?

With discomfiting attention from federal prosecutors and the media raining down on the asbestos judges comprising the nation’s #1 Judicial Hellhole, a runaway verdict from last year has now been dramatically reduced.  Coincidence?  Perhaps.

But as reported by Goldberg Segalla’s Asbestos Case Trackerthe highly publicized NYCAL [New York City Asbestos Litigation] verdict of $190 million “in five consolidated asbestos cases” has been reduced to a “collective award [of] just under $30 million” after a successful post-trial defense motion. “While the trial court rejected the defendants’ arguments on certain evidentiary issues, causation, apportionment, consolidation, and recklessness, it recognized that the verdicts materially deviated from what would be reasonable compensation.”

In other words, the February 5 decision by Justice Joan Madden, the Queen of Consolidation, comes as a curious and pleasant surprise to asbestos defendants accustomed to being fleeced in NYCAL.  Though she routinely consolidates plaintiffs’ cases against one or more asbestos defendants, knowing full well that such consolidation provides an unfair advantage to plaintiffs, Justice Madden in this instance was suddenly convinced after the fact that the original sky-high verdict — driven largely by pain and suffering damages — was not remotely reasonable or comparable to those in similar cases tried in other New York State jurisdictions or in other states across the country.  

If unwanted attention sparked by both the December 16 release of ATRA’s prescient Judicial Hellholes report and the January 22 corruption indictment of former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in connection with the millions of dollars paid to him by top asbestos law firm Weiss & Luxenberg may suddenly be working to moderate NYCAL judges’ heretofore decidedly plaintiff-favoring conduct, then let’s keep that unwanted attention from prosecutors and media coming, shall we?   

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