Asbestos plaintiff knows little about his case against CSX

Steve Korris Jun. 19, 2009, 6:18am



WHEELING, W.V. - Earl Baylor's asbestos exposure suit against his former employers at CSX Transportation has brought him fame, but lawyers who deposed him last month discovered that he knew next to nothing about his case.

"Baylor's case was a sham," CSX lawyer Marc Williams of Huntington, W.V. wrote to U.S. District Judge Frederick Stamp on June 16.

During his May 11 deposition, Baylor "had virtually no knowledge of the circumstances" around his representation by Peirce, Raimond and Coulter of Pittsburgh, Williams wrote.

He wrote that Peirce firm lawyers "consistently acted without his authorization."

He wrote that at his deposition Baylor identified his own signature on a questionnaire but said handwriting on the asbestos exposure section belonged to someone else.

Stamp plans to start trial Aug. 11 on CSX's fraud conspiracy suit against the Peirce firm, owner Robert Peirce, and radiologist Ray Harron of Bridgeport, W.V.

CSX claims Peirce manufactured lawsuits using "black market" evidence.

CSX sought to challenge hundreds of suits, but Stamp ruled that he would hear evidence only about Baylor's suit.

CSX lawyers sought evidence from Baylor but he didn't tell them much.

"Baylor did not know the screenings he attended were conducted by the Peirce firm," Williams wrote.

Baylor didn't receive results of the screenings, he wrote.

Baylor "offered conflicting testimony as to whether he even understood that the Peirce firm had filed a lawsuit against CSX on his behalf," he wrote.

Baylor didn't know where the suit was filed, he wrote.

Baylor didn't know the suit was dismissed in 2006, refiled in 2008, and dismissed again, he wrote.

"Peirce himself admits that Baylor's claim was refiled in 2008 without any conscious consideration by any employee at the Peirce firm," he wrote.

Williams pleaded to pursue a claim against former Peirce associate Louis Raimond, who claims his retirement in 2003 clears him of responsibility.

"While it is true that Raimond did not file Baylor's claim, he created it," Williams wrote.

"Raimond orchestrated the Peirce firm's mass litigation screening program in the late 1980s," he wrote.

"Raimond was solely responsible for the selection and retention of the firm's screening doctors until his retirement," he wrote.

"A jury could reasonably conclude that Raimond simply walked away from the proverbial ticking bomb, knowing a claim would still be filed based upon the evidence he helped manufacture and having done nothing to stop it," he wrote.

He wrote that Peirce and Raimond directed technician Jim Corbitt to take low quality X-rays of Baylor and others in a hotel parking lot near Augusta, Ga.

"Corbitt produced an X-ray of Mr. Baylor that was both underexposed and underinflated so as to show more white marks in the lung fields than would be seen on a higher quality film," he wrote.

The firm sent Baylor's X-ray to Harron, who had generated about 6,000 positive reports for the Peirce firm alone.

"As he did in about 65 percent of all X-rays sent to him by the Lawyer Defendants, Harron found Baylor's to exhibit signs consistent with asbestosis," he wrote.

He wrote that the firm received unsolicited copies of Baylor's medical records with a report from physician Christopher Knox finding no sign of asbestosis.

"Although the Lawyer Defendants maintained this admittedly significant piece of evidence in their CSX litigation file for more than two years prior to filing suit, they now claim -- incredibly -- they never knew about it," he wrote.

He wrote that physician Donald Breyer, who confirmed Harron's report, rubber stamped Harron's reports more than 90 percent of the time.

He wrote that Harron's career as a litigation doctor ended in 2005 when U.S. District Judge Janis G. Jack of Corpus Christi, Texas, concluded that he participated in a scheme to manufacture diagnoses for money.

He wrote that in 2007 Peirce instructed Baylor to travel to Columbia, S.C., for examination by Richard Cassoff, Peirce's personal physician.

Cassoff examined 197 CSX workers in a day, he wrote.

"Given the foregoing circumstances, it should come as no surprise that Cassoff 'diagnosed' Baylor and every other client he saw as having asbestosis," he wrote.

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