The ostensible purpose of a Maryland Senate hearing last month was to discuss solutions to the stubborn backlog of more than 30,000 asbestos lawsuits in the Baltimore courts. But plaintiff lawyers spent more time asking for a legislative fix to a single legal decision that could eliminate thousands of those lawsuits from the docket at once.
On Dec. 1, the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, is scheduled to hear an appeal of Duffy v. CBS, a 2015 decision that applied Maryland’s 20-year statute of repose to an asbestos lawsuit. If the decision is upheld, thousands of plaintiffs claiming they were injured by breathing asbestos dust before 1970 will have their cases dismissed.
Most of those plaintiffs are represented by the law firm of Baltimore Orioles owner Peter Angelos, who controls more than 17,000 of the 30,977 asbestos lawsuits pending in Baltimore courts. Lawyers with the Angelos firm say every one of their cases is viable, but there is no feasible way to try each one in front of a judge. At last month’s hearing before the Maryland Senate’s Judicial Proceedings Committee, Angelos attorney Armand J. Volta argued for a massive consolidation of those lawsuits – a tactic Baltimore has tried twice before – to goad defendant companies into settling.
Read more of this Legal Newsline story on Forbes.