PLAINTIFFS IN WELDING FUME LITIGATION FORCED TO DISMISS FIFTH TRIAL-READY CASE DUE TO FRAUD
Follows Dismissal of Smith Case Which Was To Be Tried In Mississippi Until Defendants Discovered Fraud
New Orleans, LA and Washington, DC, March 28, 2008 – John Beisner of O’Melveny & Myers LLP, attorney for several current and former welding rod manufacturers, today announced that the plaintiffs in the welding fume litigation have moved to dismiss a case filed on behalf of Mary Lopez after evidence emerged suggesting that Ms. Lopez had falsely claimed six individuals as dependent grandchildren on her U.S. income tax returns. The Lopez case is the fifth welding fume case that has been dismissed after being set for trial due to fraud by the plaintiffs.
Mr. Beisner stated: “This case had no merit and should never have been brought before the Court in the first place. We believe the plaintiff’s alleged ailments were completely fabricated, similar to those of numerous other plaintiffs in this litigation. Time and again in this litigation, we are finding that plaintiffs have misrepresented their conditions or symptoms. When the federal court overseeing the welding fume litigation required plaintiffs to provide information about their claims, it turned out that 40 percent had never been diagnosed with any neurological condition, and 70 percent of the plaintiffs diagnosed at attorney-sponsored screenings never sought medical treatment for their supposed conditions.
“What happened here is that lawyers filed a lot of lawsuits without any basis, and now they are being forced to dismiss case after case because they are meritless – or in the worst case scenarios, downright fraudulent. The number of total pending cases has dropped by one-half in the last year and by two-thirds over the last two years. Four other plaintiffs over the past few years have been forced to dismiss their cases due to fraud.”
The Smith Dismissal in Hinds County, Mississippi
In January 2008, plaintiffs were forced to dismiss the case filed by Troy Smith after he was caught on videotape engaging in activities he had testified he was unable to perform. The Smith case was scheduled to be tried in Hinds County, Mississippi, before Judge Robert DeLaughter. The Justice Department’s Public Integrity Division is reportedly investigating Judge DeLaughter and others in connection with allegations of improper influence by attorney Joey Langston. Shortly before the dismissal, Judge DeLaughter recused himself from the Smith case and several other welding-fume cases because Langston was involved in these cases as well.
In early 2006, plaintiffs were forced to dismiss three cases in the federal multidistrict (MDL) proceeding due to fraud. One of those plaintiffs, Dewey Morgan, admitted that he repeatedly had lied about his claims during the course of the litigation. His admissions came after surveillance video revealed Mr. Morgan, who claimed he was completely disabled and unable to walk, engaging in physical activity that included carrying groceries and doing yardwork. Plaintiffs were also forced to dismiss the cases of two other trial candidates - Darwin Peabody and Scott Landry – after they provided fraudulent discovery responses.
John Beisner stated, “We question how plaintiffs’ counsel could choose to proceed with these cases despite obvious warning signs about the veracity of the plaintiffs’ claims. What makes these claims particularly troubling is that thousands of welding fume plaintiffs – including many of those whose claims have been discredited or turned out to be fraudulent – were diagnosed by the same plaintiff-hired physician in cursory screenings. In fact, most of the remaining claims are based solely on a diagnosis from this screening doctor, calling into serious question their validity.”
The Lopez dismissal comes on the heels of four unanimous defense verdicts which were returned in the Andre/Barras case just over two weeks ago. Jurors have now found for defendants in 20 of the last 23 plaintiffs’ cases tried in this litigation.
Beisner concluded, “Welding consumable manufacturers have always worked to ensure the health and safety of welders and have been unfairly targeted in these lawsuits. It’s very troubling that these responsible companies are being targeted by baseless and fraudulent litigation.”
For additional information about this litigation, please go to www.weldinginfonetwork.com.
Brandy Bergman / Lesley Bogdanow
Sard Verbinnen & Co
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