CHARLESTON – When Robert Daley of Robert Peirce's firm in Pittsburgh told Circuit Judge Arthur Recht that his firm would conclude its business in West Virginia, he didn't mention that he had just started three new asbestos suits in Kanawha County.
At a hearing on Feb. 4, Daley told Recht that fewer than 50 cases remained from more than 1,600 that CSX Transportation workers filed against the railroad.
"My goal is to clear this docket in two years," Daley said.
After that, he said, "The Peirce firm's business in West Virginia will be concluded."
For 10 years, the firm has dragged West Virginia courts through mass litigation on behalf of clients mostly from Kentucky and Tennessee.
CSX succeeded in exposing many suits as baseless, though it failed to prove fraud to a jury in federal court at Wheeling last year.
An appeal of the jury verdict remains pending at the Fourth Circuit appeals court in Richmond, Va.
Although Daley signaled the approaching end of the Peirce era, he had filed three new complaints against CSX on Jan. 15.
Donna Barber of Jacksonville, Fla., blamed CSX for her lung cancer.
CSX operates from headquarters in Jacksonville, so the woman could have sued in her home town rather than hundreds of miles away.
Pamela Geary sued for the estate of her husband, Virgil Geary. She listed her home as Cattlesburg, Kentucky, apparently meaning Catlettsburg.
Crystal Morris of Grafton sued for the estate of her father, Stuart McQuain.
CSX answered all three with motions to dismiss for failure to state a claim.
Circuit Judge Paul Zakaib presides over the suits.