DuPont asbestos retrial continued again, still no explanation from Floyd

David Yates Apr. 5, 2010, 9:45am

Once again, a new trial against DuPont de Nemours has been continued until a later date. The asbestos trial of Caryl Richardson was slated to begin Monday, April 5, but has now been placed on the December docket.

Over the past two years, the Southeast Texas Record has reported on the asbestos litigation filed by Richardson on behalf of deceased worker Willis Whisnant Jr.

DuPont won a jury verdict in early 2008. However, Judge Donald Floyd, 172nd District Court, tossed out the jury's decision and granted Richardson's motion for a new trial without any explanation for the ruling.

On Dec. 9, DuPont filed an unopposed motion to remove the case from the spring docket. Judge Floyd never officially ruled on the motion by signing an order, but a courthouse official told the Record the judge must have verbally ordered the case to the December docket.

Following two appeals and numerous hearings, in July 2009 the Texas Supreme Court ordered Judge Floyd to disclose his reasons for granting the new trial.

The judge has yet to give his reasons.

In its motion for continuance, DuPont petitioned Floyd to remove the case because the parties "should not be put to the expenditure of time, effort and resources necessary to prepare for an April trial date while the Court has the new-trial issues under consideration."

"The Court ultimately may conclude that the order granting a new trial should be set aside and the Final Judgment reinstated," the motion states. "On the other hand, if the Court concludes that a new trial still should be granted, then the Court will need to provide an opinion that complies with the Supreme Court's mandamus decision.

"Any such opinion would be subject to potential mandamus review in the (Ninth) Court of Appeals and potentially the Texas Supreme Court."

Whisnant, a former subcontractor for DuPont, died from mesothelioma in his late 70s. A final judgment was signed by Judge Floyd on April 17, 2008.

Following the no negligence verdict, plaintiff's attorney Glen Morgan filed a motion for a new trial, arguing the jury's verdict was not supported by the evidence. He also accused the Record of jury tampering and of being agents of DuPont.

Floyd granted the motion in a May 28, 2008, order, but offered no explanation for his decision.

Caryl Richardson et al vs. DuPont de Nemours, Jefferson County Case No. E179-183.

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