CHARLESTON - Pittsburgh attorney Robert Daley recently filed 900 wrongful death and asbestos lawsuits in one day in Kanawha Circuit Court against two national railroad companies, seeking compensatory damages for the plaintiffs.
The suits, which contained six wrongful death suits, were filed Oct. 29 on behalf of people or their estates that worked or were affiliated with CSX or Norfolk Southern Railway. The wrongful death suits were filed against CSX.
According to the suits, the plaintiffs were exposed to and caused to inhale asbestos fibers, fibrosis-inducing materials and carcinogenic materials.
In the lawsuits, Daley claims the defendants failed to protect its employees from the dangers of asbestos and asbestos-containing products.
In the 900 lawsuits, the first 760 were filed against CSX. The other 240 are against Norfolk Southern. The cases actually are re-filings of many cases dismissed this summer by the state Supreme Court.
Many of the 900 plaintiffs have developed asbestosis, asbestos-related pleural disease, cancer, and increased risk of cancer, as well as other serious and severe respiratory diseases, including mesothelioma, bronchogenic carcinoma, or other cancerous conditions, according to the suits.
Some plaintiffs have suffered difficulty breathing, and some have died as a result of their condition, it is alleged.
According to the receipt on the front of the first set of suits, it cost $110,200 to file 760 suits.
Daley and his firm, the Pittsburgh-based firm of Robert Peirce & Associates, are no strangers to West Virginia courts or headlines.
CSX previously has alleged that the Pittsburgh-based firm that specializes in asbestos claims was involved a claim ripe with fraud.
In a case filed by the firm in 2002 in Marshall County, a former CSX employee provided the name of doctor who doesn't exist "to provide the needed medical evidence and support for his asbestosis claims."
In another case in U.S. District Court in Wheeling, CSX said the firm was involved in a scheme to concoct bogus X-rays that showed asbestos in the lungs of a CSX employee.
CSX claimed former CSX worker Robert Gilkison was hired by the Peirce firm as a "runner" to round up former colleagues for lawsuits, suggested that CSX employee Ricky May get someone who previously tested positive to pretend to be him at a 2000 asbestos screening.
CSX said May had Danny Jayne, a CSX worker who had been diagnosed with asbestosis in 1999, to impersonate him for the X-ray. The suit claimed Gilkison helped make this happen by letting May complete the paperwork and walking Jayne through the exam.
In court papers, the Peirce Firm acknowledged the scheme but denied knowledge of it.
And earlier this year, Daley argued to the state Supreme Court that every American enjoys a constitutional right to sue any other American in a West Virginia court.
Daley wanted the Supreme Court to reverse Circuit Judge Arthur Recht, who dismissed 1,000 asbestos suits that Daley filed in West Virginia. Recht handles about 25,000 asbestos suits under special assignment from the Court.
The Justices later affirmed Recht's dismissals. Recht had relied on a 2003 law that restricts access to state courts.
These 900 new cases actually are re-filings of most of those 1,000 dismissed cases. It is likely Daley refiled these to avoid possible statute of limitations issues.