CHARLESTON – U.S. District Judge Joseph Goodwin, who ignored advice from a Louisiana lawyer about Wheeling attorney Teresa Toriseva, chooses also to ignore an affidavit from Barry Hill of Wheeling about how he fired Toriseva.
On Nov. 7, Goodwin denied a motion to attach Hill's affidavit to an objection Danny Becnel filed against Toriseva in litigation over Digitek heart medicine.
Goodwin rejected Hill's affidavit "for reasons appearing to the court."
Becnel had offered it in support of his claim that Toriseva's untrustworthiness rendered her unfit to act as co-lead counsel in Digitek litigation.
Although Goodwin did not appoint Toriseva as co-lead counsel, he chose her on Nov. 5 to lead a plaintiff steering committee of 22 lawyers.
Since August, Goodwin has presided over Digitek suits from across the nation by appointment of the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multi-District Litigation.
More than 100 lawyers represent plaintiffs in Goodwin's court, and from the start he has contended with friction among them.
When they failed to nominate candidates for liaison counsel, he acted on his own to select Harry Bell of Charleston and Fred Thompson of the South Carolina firm Motley Rice.
Goodwin warned that he expected greater cooperation and collegiality among plaintiff lawyers, but instead he received Becnel's objection to Toriseva.
Becnel described Toriseva's departures from two law firms, and he added a crude comment about her divorce.
Becnel moved for leave to attach Hill's affidavit to his objection.
In the affidavit, Hill wrote that he had no role in instigating Becnel's objection and knew nothing of it until he received notice of it through electronic court records.
He wrote that he filed 16 Digitek suits as local counsel for Becnel in West Virginia but did not intend to participate in the multi-district litigation.
He described her termination from the firm of Hill, Toriseva and Williams in 2006.
Neither Becnel's objection nor Hill's affidavit gained any respect from Goodwin. He omitted Becnel from the steering committee and he discarded Hill's affidavit.
The multi-district panel consolidates similar suits from various federal courts for pretrial discovery. For trial, every suit returns to the court where it began.
The Digitek suits seek damages from Mylan Pharmaceuticals of West Virginia and drug maker Actavis Group.
Goodwin started with 14 cases, and the pile keeps growing. On Nov. 12, the 70th case arrived by transfer from Arizona federal court.