Oregon Trial Court Sets Aside $2.4 Million Asbestos Premises Judgment and Grants Motion for New Trial Due to Plaintiff Misconduc

On August 14, 2015, three premises defendants in a wrongful death/mesothelioma claim prevailed on a post-trial motion for a new trial in the Multnomah County Circuit Court (Oregon), setting aside a judgment for the plaintiff in excess of $2.4 million.  In the matter of Golik v. CBS Corporation, et al., defendants Longview Fibre Paper & Packaging, Inc. (represented for post-trial and appellate matters by Steven V. Rizzo, J. Michael Mattingly, and Kevin Clonts of Rizzo Mattingly Bosworth PC), Georgia-Pacific Consumer Products, LLC, and Weyerhaeuser Company filed post-trial motions for JNOV and, in the alternative, a new trial.  The Honorable Karin Immergut granted the defendants’ motion for a new trial based on the plaintiff’s failure in discovery to produce various bankruptcy trust records, including decedent’s affidavits concerning his heavy asbestos exposure at other locations and to other companies’ products.

In granting the defendants’ motion, Judge Immergut found that plaintiff’s attorneys engaged in “misconduct” that “materially affected the substantial rights” of the premises defendants.  In addition, Judge Immergut ruled that a new trial was warranted since the decedent’s affidavits were “newly discovered evidence” that the defendants could not have discovered with reasonable diligence.  In support of the ruling, the Court noted that the affidavits were in the possession of plaintiff’s attorneys at all times, that the premises defendants had properly requested the affidavits, and that plaintiff’s counsel had wrongly represented that the bankruptcy trust documents in their possession had all been produced before trial.

The trial court’s ruling reaffirms the requirement in Oregon courts that parties must participate in discovery in good faith, including the production of bankruptcy trust documents in asbestos injury litigation.  The trial court ruled that, due to the substantial harm caused by the plaintiff’s “misconduct” to the defendants’ ability to fully try their case, it had no choice but to grant the defendants’ motion for a new trial.

Plaintiff was represented by Walker Humphrey and David Bricker of Waters Kraus & Paul, LLP, and  Jeffrey Mutnick.

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