Little red hen justice in West Virginia

By The West Virginia Record | Aug 13, 2010

Remember the story of the little red hen? All the other farm animals were eager to accept a piece of the bread she'd made, but not one had been willing to help her make it.

Helping her plant and harvest the wheat, mill it into flour, and knead the dough and bake it was too much work for them. They wanted something for nothing, but the little red hen decided to teach them a lesson instead. Because they had been unwilling to put out any effort, she declined to share her bounty with them.

If the lazy, greedy farm animals brings to mind some asbestos trial lawyers, we're not shocked. For too long, a cabal of trial lawyers here and elsewhere have been getting something for almost nothing and winning millions of dollars in judgments for alleged asbestos victims whose claims were poorly substantiated or even fabricated.

Finally some of our judges seem to be as fed up as the little red hen, now refusing to reward sloth and sloppiness.

In a recent case in Texas, only 54 of more than 5,000 claimants against the U.S. Silica Company responded to a judge's request for substantiation. Only 21 of those 54 provided sufficient authentication to warrant a trial. That means more than 4,950 alleged victims didn't want to do the work to earn some bread, or didn't have a case to begin with.

We've got a red hen in West Virginia, too. In June, Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Arthur Recht dismissed, with prejudice, more than 1,400 asbestos claims filed by the firm of Pittsburgh lawyer Robert Peirce.

Judge Recht recently had instituted new rules requiring plaintiffs to certify that they were aware of claims filed on their behalf and that those claims were "well-founded in fact." Unwilling or unable to comply, Peirce's firm moved to dismiss all but 64 of those claims. That's more than 1,336 alleged victims who wouldn't or couldn't work for their bread.

There's a moral to this story, and it's pretty obvious. In the meantime let's hear from some more red hens who wear robes.

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