Judge to hear strike motions in asbestos case

Alejandro de los Rios Jul. 22, 2010, 11:31am

Judge Rosemary Ledet will hear two motions to strike juries against the City of New Orleans and the Sewerage and Water Board (SWB) in an asbestos case on July 23 in Orleans Parish Civil District Court.

Evelyn Bodine, Joseph Bodine Jr. and Anthony Bodine are suing on behalf of their deceased father, Joseph Bodine, who died of malignant pleural mesothelioma after allegedly inhaling asbestos fibers while working as a painter.

New Orleans and the SWB are listed as defendants along with Commerical Union Insurance Co., Crane Co., Dixie-Mill Supply Co., Reilly-Benton Co. Inc. (RBCI), Taylor-Seidenbach Inc., Maryland Casualty Insurance, Westchester Fire Insurance Co., Zurich American Insurance Co. and the Travelers Indemnity Co.

New Orleans attorney Harold Marchand, acting as deputy special counsel for the SWB, filed a motion to strike jury on May 20. Assistant City Attorney Arlene Compass filed a similar motion on June 3. Both motions cite La. R.S.-13:5105, which states, "no suit against the state or a a state entity or political subdivision shall be tried by jury."

Compass resigned from her post effective July 1 and was replaced as New Orleans' counsel by Assistant City Attorney Albert Thibodeaux. On July 20, Thibodeaux filed an unopposed motion to continue the settlement conference, trial and to extend the pre-trial order of cut-off dates. A settlement conference had been set for Sept. 9 and a two-week trial had been set to start on Oct. 25.

New Orleans attorney Scott Bickford filed the original petition for damages in March 2009 when Joseph Bodine was still alive. An amended petition in July 2009 noted that Bodine had subsequently died. New Orleans attorney Spencer Doody is also representing the plaintiffs.

The suit alleges that Joseph Bodine came into contact with asbestos while working for the SWB from 1962-1963 and with New Orleans from 1963-1986. It also claims that Bodine contracted asbestos while working with Higgins Inc. and American Standard, now known as Trane U.S. Inc., from 1949-1965. Bodine was diagnosed with mesothelioma in October 2009.

Aetna Casualty and Surety Co. had been listed as a defendant but was dismissed without prejudice after a motion filed by the plaintiffs in July 2009.

Metairie attorney Kelly Lightfoot is representing Taylor-Seidenbach Inc. New Orleans attorney Richard Crump is representing Trane. The Houston firm of Willingham, Fultz, Cougill is representing RBCI. Maryland Casualty Insurance is represented by New Orleans attorney David Salley.

Orleans Parish Case 2009-02923

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