Plaintiff's attorney Brent Coon
A day after an aggressive national asbestos litigation firm deluged Madison County Circuit Court with 153 asbestos and silicosis lawsuits, it returned with another 19.
Headquartered in Beaumont, Texas, Brent Coon & Associates filed a total of 172 cases in two days in Madison County on behalf of injured state of Illinois workers. The firm also has offices in St. Louis, Ohio, Mississippi, Louisiana and California.
Wednesday's new suits were filed on behalf of plaintiffs complaining they developed silicosis--a disease caused by inhaling sand particles--while working in various labor capacities.
When he established an office in California, Coon was unabashedly proud of his firm's westward movement, as recently quoted in law.com:
"California's just another expansion in our drive to become a one-stop shop," Coon stated.
His firm's decision to discover new frontiers, may be in part due to a tougher legal climate for plaintiffs in Texas.
In August 2004, a Texas jury decided in favor of defendant 3M in a case brought by a sandblaster who developed silicosis, even though he wore a dust mask. Juan Rodriguez was represented by Coon.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Institute for Legal Reform (ILR) was alarmed, pointing out that the recent number of filings in Madison County represents more than one-third of all 2004 asbestos filings.
"If that doesn't raise red flags at the courthouse, I don't know what will," said Lisa Rickard, president of the ILR.
She noted that a total of 477 asbestos lawsuits were filed last year in Madison County.
"Not surprisingly, these claims were filed by out-of-state lawyers," she said. "(The) lawsuits were filed by a law firm based in Texas, where comprehensive legal reform legislation passed in 2003 and a federal judge recently recommended throwing out some 10,000 silicosis claims she suspected were fraudulent.
"We implore the judges assigned to these cases to closely scrutinize the merits of each case and dismiss any that do not belong in court."
Coon's website claims, "The vast majority of our cases are referrals from attorneys throughout the country. Since 2001, we have received thousands of cases from attorneys who have confidence in our expertise, level of commitment, and solid work ethic.
"Our law firm is known to be flexible, sophisticated and aggressive in handling a wide range of legal matters swiftly and efficiently in multiple jurisdictions."