Known in tort reform circles as a breeding ground for asbestos attorneys, the Beaumont courthouse in Jefferson County welcomed around 40 new toxic tort claims in 2010, with one local judge receiving the lion's share.

Judge Donald Floyd, who has presided over the 172nd District Court since 1989, stacked 15 additional asbestos and benzene toxic tort claims on top of his 2010 docket.

Of the 15 new cases assigned to Floyd's court, 10 were brought by the Beaumont-born Provost Umphrey Law Firm, court records show.

In fact, PU attorneys, who have filed thousands of asbestos cases in the past two decades, represent clients in 29 of the 40 cases filed in 2010.

Runner up is 58th District Court Judge Bob Wortham, who saw 12 new toxic tort claims creep into his court in 2010.

Again, PU will represent the plaintiffs in most of those cases, since nine of the 12 were filed by the firm's attorneys, court records show.

Third place belongs to Judge Milton Shuffield, 136th District Court, with seven toxic tort claims assigned in 2010.

Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court, received the remaining six, court records show.

On average, 3.3 toxic tort cases were filed per month in Jefferson County.

In all, toxic tort claims slightly dipped in 2010, as Southeast Texas attorneys filed a total of 46 asbestos and/or benzene suits in 2009.

Although hundreds of toxic tort suits settled, no asbestos case went to trial in 2010.

However, one benzene case, John Tompson vs. Univar USA, did go to trial in May, but ended in mistrial.

Asbestos cases filed in Jefferson County are transferred to a multidistrict litigation panel in Harris County, where Judge Mark Davidson, 11th District Court, makes mass rulings on discovery before sending the cases back to their courts of origin.

All lawsuits filed in Jefferson County are randomly assigned to the county's four civil judges.

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