Quoted from http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-hiltzik-20120422,0,1097806.column
Mesothelioma victims deserve better than wasteful legal maneuvers
The macabre zero-sum game squanders millions of dollars and blights the mesothelioma patients’ final days. The obvious alternative is to deal with asbestos claims administratively.
A video still shows John Johnson during the 12th day of his deposition in his asbestos-exposure lawsuit. Johnson collapsed within 40 minutes of answering the final question, and he died the next day. (April 19, 2012)
By Michael Hiltzik
April 22, 2012
John Johnson died three months ago, his body racked with malignant mesothelioma, a disease that’s almost always caused by asbestos exposure. The Marine veteran had sued dozens of companies he believed shared responsibility for his condition, but he never got his day in court.
Here’s the horrific question now: Did asbestos industry lawyers deliberately drive Johnson to his death by putting him through a brutal series of depositions so their clients would save money?
That’s what his family, his doctor and his lawyers assert. Despite affidavits from his doctor stating that 12 hours of depositions over a few weeks would be about as much as the 69-year-old’s health could stand, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge allowed the companies he was suing a total of 25 hours.
Johnson put off returning to the hospital so he could appear at every session, including the last, on Jan. 23. His face contorted in pain, he gasped out answers to questions from the last of the dozens of defense attorneys in attendance. Less than 40 minutes later, he collapsed.