Plaintiff wants hot topics off-limits in asbestos suit

Marilyn Tennissen Jun. 14, 2007, 4:00am

Court documents filed in anticipation of an upcoming hearing shed
light on how plaintiff's lawyers fret over jury perception of their
asbestos lawsuits.

The hearing for summary judgment for defendant DuPont in Jerry King
vs. AC&S Inc. et al (Case No. E167-892-GF) is set for June 15 in Judge
Donald Floyd's court. The file contains a "motion in limine" asking
Floyd to limit what DuPont or other defendants can say about King in its defense.

"Motions in limine" are pretrial motions to exclude unrelated, but
arguably prejudicial, evidence from the trial.

Among the subjects plaintiff's lawyer Brent Coon wants declared
off-limits are past lawsuits or settlements King may have received,
information about King's prior marriages, church membership, criminal
activity, smoking habits, and drug use. Coon even asked the court to
prohibit DuPont from asking whether King has been treated for a
sexually transmitted disease.

Many of the topics Coon wants prohibited deal with the nature of
asbestos suits, the legal climate in Jefferson County and Coon's law
practice itself.

Coon wants Floyd to prohibit DuPont and others from probing when, where or how King hired him, whether King was diagnosed with asbestos-related disease in a mass screening ("(no) attempts to imply that diagnosis was made under questionable circumstance or was medically improper"),the assets of his lawyers or the size of the law firm.

"It is sufficient for defense counsel to ask prospective jurors if
they know Brent Coon or any members of the law firm of Brent Coon &
Associates," the motion states.

Coon asked Floyd to also prohibit DuPont from mentioning other
asbestos cases pending in Texas or Jefferson County as well as
guarantee "no mention be made as to any alleged 'reputation' of the
civil justice system of Beaumont or Jefferson County or Texas," and
that includes "any disparaging inferences with respect to judges and
juries or any inference to any 'socio-economic indicators' of
Jefferson County or Texas."

"This includes mention of these or similar claims 'clogging our
courts' or other unfounded or prejudicial statements or comments," it

Coon also wants defense lawyers prohibited from referencing Texas or
Jefferson County as the "lawsuit capital of the world," or from saying
that the plaintiff is making an attempt "win the lottery, shoot for
the moon, swing for the fences."

The motion in limine concludes with an instruction for defendants from
making "any reference to this motion in limine."

The plaintiff was originally part of the Helen Adams et al vs. AC&S et
al, E167-892, filed Aug. 29, 2002.

The original suit filed by Coon had 1,200 plaintiffs against 225
defendants that manufactured, sold or distributed asbestos or asbestos
containing products. Parts of the suit were transferred to Multi
District Litigation Court in Harris County

The Adams case was severed into case E167-892-B, William Flippo et al
vs. AC&S et al, on Nov. 22, 2005. Plaintiffs with malignancies in the
William Flippo Group were later severed into individual cases.

Sandra Clark will represent DuPont in the June 15 summary judgment hearing.

More of the individual cases severed from the original suit are on
hearing dockets for later in June.

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