BASF, Cahill Liable for Asbestos Evidence, 3rd Circ. Told

March 13, 2014 – In The News

Jeffrey M. Pollock was quoted in Law360 article, "BASF, Cahill Liable for Asbestos Evidence, 3rd Circ. Told." Full text can be found in the March 13, 2014, article, but a synopsis is noted below.

Protections from fraud claims stemming from statements made during litigation cannot be used to shield a company from allegations in a punitive class action accusing the company and its counsel of destroying evidence about asbestos-containing products, the Third Circuit heard.

The plaintiffs say the company and its counsel ruined thousands of product liability suits by destroying evidence about the asbestos content of the company’s talc products.

Jeffrey Pollock, who is representing the plaintiffs, argued that a lower court’s decision dismissing fraud claims ignored pleadings that conduct by the defendants went beyond simple statements made during the course of litigation.

“If I shoot an adversary’s witness, clearly I’m going to be liable for that even though I’m doing it in the name of my client. I’ve got to be liable for it. There are limits to what I can do,” Pollock told a three-judge panel during oral arguments. “This is a plot ahead of time to collect evidence, destroy it, benefit from it — and that is a conspiracy.”

Pollock argued that it would be within the power of the federal courts to notify potential class members who’d settled or dismissed claims against the company that the company and its attorneys had been found to have concealed or destroyed evidence that might have affected their cases, and create a trust that would preserve other evidence at risk of suppression.

“There’s nothing that violates any state court’s right in that regard,” he said.