Texas firm asserts privilege in 7,000 asbestos cases

Robreno

PHILADELPHIA - Baron and Budd of Houston, a leader in asbestos litigation, has asserted attorney client privilege in more than 7,000 suits that depend on reports from radiologist Jay Segarra. Tiffany Dickinson of Baron and Budd claimed the privilege on Oct. 7 in national litigation before U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno of Philadelphia. She attached 191 pages of client names, at 37 names per page. Clouds of suspicion have hung over Segarra since 2005 when federal judge Janis Jack of Texas revealed that he diagnosed asbestosis and silicosis in the same X-rays. He currently faces a civil suit at federal court in Jackson, Miss., where National Services Industries alleges that he signed fraudulent X-ray reports for asbestos lawyers. Baron and Budd's bid to shield Segarra followed an Aug. 27 order from Robreno casting doubt on all suits that began in mass X-ray screenings. Many screenings lacked reliability and accountability, he wrote, and screeners failed to adhere to necessary medical standards and regulations. He wrote that he would entertain motions and conduct hearings to resolve evidentiary questions in cases supported only by results of mass screenings. Robreno presides over asbestos suits from around the nation by appointment of the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multi District litigation. A year ago he inherited tens of thousands of suits with dozens of defendants in the average suit, for a total in excess of three million claims. Moving aggressively to sort out valid claims from the mass, he brought more than a half million claims to a close in the first four months of this year.

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