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Other Jurisdictions

In McLean County, Illinois, Associate Judge Paul Lawrence ruled that Greg Baise, the President of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association (IMA), must travel 135 miles from Chicago to Bloomington to face questioning in a trial. The claim alleges that certain companies engaged in a conspiracy to keep the risks of asbestos from the public several decades ago. The oddity is that neither Baise nor the IMA is a party to the lawsuit. Defendants also took notice this year when Judge Lawrence, joined by Circuit Judge Michael Drazewski, scheduled two trials against the same defendant on the same day. According to a report, “Pneumo Abex, a corporation that exists only to pay claims, ran out of lawyers and tried to settle the case before Lawrence because it couldn’t defend two.” Other defendants had to split up their trial teams.

The Gulf Coast of Texas has long been recognized as one of the toughest places in America for corporate defendants to receive a fair trial. Once a perennial Judicial Hellhole, the area, which includes several of Houston’s surrounding counties, is at the center of numerous mass litigations, and is infamous for huge awards. Although the Texas legislature enacted significant reforms that helped improve the litigation climate throughout the state, significant concerns about Gulf Coast, courts remain. A Harris County jury, for instance, recently broke records for the largest verdict for a single incident of wrongful death when awarding $82.5 million to the family of a worker killed in a natural gas explosion.

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