"There, but for the grace of God, go I," may sum up the way Pittsburgh asbestos attorney Robert Peirce feels right now.

Or maybe he's in a Johnny Cash frame of mind, humming to himself, "It's my time, 'cause I'm the next in line."

Not often in life do we get to see clearly what's waiting for us up ahead, but Robert Peirce may have been given a glimpse of the future in the recent fate of two Mississippi attorneys who share his dedication in the pursuit of questionable asbestos cases.

This Monday, a federal jury in Natchez concluded the pair committed fraud in a lawsuit against the Illinois Central Railroad when they failed to disclose their clients' involvement in a previous, mass-action asbestos case against the same firm. The jury ruled the attorneys and their clients must return the $210,000 settlement and pay an additional $210,000 in punitive damages.

The implications are ominous for Peirce and his tarnished star witness, Bridgeport radiologist Ray Harron, who have a case of their own before the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Peirce's firm is accused of conspiring to fabricate asbestos exposure claims against CSX Transportation.

Like Illinois Central, CSX got tired of being the courthouse punching bag and decided to fight back.

Harron has been accused of diagnosing lung disease in patients who did not have it. CSX charges that Peirce's law firm hid those plaintiffs among thousands of others, thereby preventing adequate investigation of each complaint.

Will Peirce finally have to explain, under oath, the challenged methods he uses against legitimate American businesses? Will he be held accountable for the damage he is accused of doing to the reputations and resources of those businesses, and for the strain his numerous payday lawsuits have put on our court system?

Now that these questions are finally being asked, it's time for credible answers -- under oath.

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