Courtroom fireworks lead to asbestos trial delay

Steve Gonzalez Feb. 22, 2005, 10:56am

Asbestos judge

Plaintiff's attorney John Barry Julian

Madison County's first asbestos trial in nearly two years will have to wait three more months.

Minutes before opening arguments, 3rd Circuit Judge Daniel J. Stack agreed to continue the case of plaintiff Williard King of Fenton, Mo. versus Georgia Pacific, Bondex, RPM Inc., and Lynn Tractor until May 9.

The continuance came after King's lawyer, Barry Julian of Alton, asked the court on Tuesday to rule references to asbestos-related rulings from other jurisdictions be inadmissable by defense counsel.

In light of Julian's motion, Jeff Hebrank, attorney for Georgia Pacific and Bondex asked for more time to prepare his case.

Hebrank also took occasion to charge plaintiff's counsel with sitting on documents and stalling his discovery process.

“(Julian) never had an honest answer to interrogatories," Hebrank said. "His fraud has handicapped us.”

Interrogatories are written questions asked that opposing parties ask each other during a lawsuit. They must be answered in writing under oath.

Hebrank didn't go so far to call for sanctions against Julian, however.

Julian insisted that the trial should start as his witnesses had flown in to testify.

Jurors will remain subject to the jury summons. They were admonished by Stack not to discuss this case, do any independent research regarding asbestos or litigation in general, and to avoid reading any related newspaper articles.

King, age 77, was diagnosed with mesothelioma on May 5, 2004. He claims he got the disease while working on farm equipment and automobiles for the defendants sometime between 1950 and 1987.

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