Local asbestos cases heading to Houston MDL

Steve Korris Jul. 26, 2007, 7:30am

Harris County District Judge Mark Davidson presides over the asbestos multi-district litigations.

Two new asbestos suits have bounced from Beaumont to Houston, to take their places on a pile of about 9,000 other suits in a statewide asbestos court.

Defendants Union Carbide and CertainTeed Corporation recently transferred suits of Lula Mae Delafosse and Marlene Capps from Jefferson County to Harris County.

Harris County 11th District Court Judge Mark Davidson runs a special asbestos court in Houston under Texas law that allows consolidation of similar cases from different counties in a single court.

Davidson presides over all pretrial action in suits he receives. For trial, he must send a suit back to the county where the plaintiff filed it.

Texas legislators passed the consolidation law in 2003, copying a "multi district litigation" law that the U. S. Congress passed for federal courts in 1967.

The Texas Supreme Court supervises multi district litigation through a panel of five judges. The panel selects a district judge to oversee each group of cases.

A transfer order from the panel in a single suit can set off a wave of transfers, because a party can automatically transfer a related suit to the special pretrial court.

These related suits, called "tag along cases," require nothing more than a notice to the trial court and the pretrial court.

Union Carbide and CertainTeed transferred Delafosse and Capps as tag along cases. Attorney Paula Blazek of Beaumont filed the Delafosse notice in June and the Capps notice in July.

Lula Delafosse sued dozens of companies in May, claiming they exposed the late Louis Delafosse to asbestos that caused his death.

Bryan Blevins of the Provost Umphrey firm in Beaumont filed the suit.

Louis Delafosse lived 87 years. A doctor who examined him at 82 reported that he could push a lawn mower. The doctor wrote that he occasionally coughed but did not wheeze.

Marlene Capps sued dozens of companies in May, claiming they exposed Charles Capps to asbestos that caused his death.

Rola Hart of the Brent Coon firm in Houston filed the suit.

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