As widely reported, the Mississippi Supreme Court ordered Judge Eddie Bowen to recuse himself in the Smith County asbestos drilling mud case that was tried to a $322 million verdict in May. In June the defendant Union Carbide moved for Judge Bowen’s recusal in the case because his father sued Union Carbide 20 years ago and settled the case. Judge Bowen and the plaintiffs opposed the motion.
The Mississippi Supreme Court’s hand-down list on Thursday included the following unanimous ruling:
In Re: Union Carbide Corporation, et al.; Smith Circuit Court; LC Case #: 2006-196; Ruling Date: 05/19/2011; Ruling Judge: Eddie Bowen; Disposition: Union Carbide’s Petition for Disqualification of Trial Judge Pursuant to M.R.A.P. 48B, for an Immediate Stay of All Proceedings, and for Other Extraordinary Relief is granted. Judge Eddie H. Bowen shall immediately recuse himself from further proceedings in Smith County Circuit Court Cause No. 2006-196, and all matters pending therein shall continue to be stayed until such time as a judge is appointed to preside. To Grant: Waller, C.J., Carlson and Dickinson, P.JJ., Lamar, Kitchens and Chandler, JJ. Not Participating: Randolph, Pierce and King, JJ. Order entered.
I miss Judge Evans.
This case is a mess. $322 million for a single plaintiff case in a venue that—let’s be honest—is funny. As in ‘odd’ funny. The chances of that verdict holding up on appeal are exactly 0.
A new judge will be appointed by the Supreme Court. That judge will presumably order a new trial or significantly reduce the verdict. Then they may all get to go back down to Raleigh for another trial with Gene Tullos and a Smith County jury. Where Union Carbide will once again be a big underdog.