From my 2010 post:
The trial involved the claims in two cases. Here are the Amended Complaints in the Turner case and the Harried case. Ill. Central sued the lawyers and their clients, but the clients obtained a defense verdict at trial.
The Complaints alleged that the individual defendants were plaintiffs in the big Cosey Jefferson County asbestos case that was filed in 1995 in which there was a massive plaintiff verdict around ten years ago. It was one of the verdicts that led to tort reform in Mississippi.
The defendants sued Ill. Central in 2001 in Jefferson County asserting an FELA claim related to exposure to asbestos. The defendants failed to disclose to Ill. Central that they were plaintiffs in theCosey case and settled their claims with Ill. Central for $90,000 and $120,000 respectively. The individual defendants testified that the lawyers (Guy and Brock) were aware of their prior asbestos claims in Cosey.
Ill. Central sued the lawyers and their clients for fraud. I believe that the verdict was for the $90,000 and $120,000 previously paid by Ill. Central, but a judgment is not on file yet, so I am not sure.
After the verdict, the Mississippi Bar brought disciplinary charges against Brock and Guy. On October 16, 2014, the Mississippi Supreme Court threw out the charges. From the Court’s hand down list:
The Mississippi Bar v. Thomas W. Brock; Consolidated with 2010-BD-01859-SCT The Mississippi Bar v. William S. Guy; Disposition: Respondents’ Motion to Dismiss Complaints is granted. This Court hereby accepts and adopts the recommendations of the Special Tribunal with respect to this case. Adopting said recommendations, this Court finds that the clear-and-convincing evidence standard required for imposition of disciplinary action against attorneys in Mississippi has not been met in this case. The complaints filed against Thomas W. Brock and William S. Guy by the Mississippi Bar are dismissed. Costs of this action shall be assessed to the Mississippi Bar. Waller, C.J., for the Court. Order entered.
In reaching its decision, the Court adopted the Complaint Tribunal’s Findings of Fact and Recommendations. The findings state in part:
…there is in fact not clear and convincing evidence that either Attorney Brock or Attorney Guy had actual knowledge of the subject prior asbestos lawsuit or diagnosis, or otherwise committed actual fraud.
In a footnote the Tribunal further states:
Indeed, upon the Tribunal’s careful consideration of all such evidence, there is no credible or otherwise persuasive evidence that either such attorney actually committed fraud.
Based on the Tribunal’s findings, the Bar even joined the motion to dismiss the complaints, stating that:
disbarment of, or other disciplinary action against, either of the two respondents is inappropriate under the circumstances.
Here is the Bar’s Joinder to Motion to Dismiss Complaints.
It’s not easy to write a blog post when you can’t stop singing to yourself: “I’ve been working on the railroad, all the live long day.” Thank god I don’t remember any other lines of that song.
It’s hard to read this as meaning anything other than the jury got it wrong. Just another reminder that jury trials are crap shoots.
What ever happened to the days when mass tort lawyers drank together, golfed together, “played” together and made sure that in the end, everyone got paid?