Motley Rice lacks standing, GE lawyer says in asbestos MDL proceedings

Steve Korris Mar. 18, 2009, 12:58pm

PHILADELPHIA – Motley Rice lawyers represent themselves and not clients in their bid to block court review of X-ray reports behind tens of thousands of asbestos suits, according to General Electric lawyer Marcy Croft of Jackson, Miss.

On March 12 Croft challenged Motley Rice's standing to move for clarification of an order that would compel radiologists to produce X-ray reports.

U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno of Philadelphia, responsible for about 90,000 asbestos suits from around the nation, signed the order on Feb. 24.

Motley Rice moved for clarification on March 6, claiming the radiologists qualified for privilege as non testifying consulting experts.

Croft replied that Robreno has consistently ruled that the privilege doesn't apply.

She argued that Robreno shouldn't even consider the motion.

"Motley Rice continues to file motions that fail to identify the plaintiffs for whom it allegedly asserts a consulting expert privilege," she wrote.

"Without this information, this law firm lacks standing because a movant is required to identify the specific parties on whose behalf a motion is filed," she wrote.

"Standing is a threshold question that cannot be waived," she wrote.

She wrote that the contents of the motion revealed that the firm itself was the movant.

"Motley Rice is not a party to this litigation and has not moved the court for permission to intervene," she wrote.

Robreno took charge of the national asbestos docket last year, by appointment of the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multi District Litigation.

He set a series of settlement conferences before various magistrates.

He set hearings throughout April on qualifications of expert witnesses.

And, he began enforcing a rule he inherited, requiring each plaintiff to state a specific claim against each defendant.

The rule split the docket into roughly three million claims.

Croft wrote earlier this year that defendants received responses or partial responses for about half the claims, leaving a million and a half claims hanging by a thread.

Formal separation of valid claims from empty ones began on March 17, when lawyer David Lipman of Coral Gables, Fla., moved to dismiss 29 of his cases.

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