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Selected Articles and Presentations by Wright & Associates P.A.

Seminar Presentations and Articles

1. Research or Manipulation - A Two Way Street?  by Steven F. Wright,  © 1993 - Defense Research Institute: Asbestos Medicine Seminar, 1993.   
 
  This article reviews the potential impact of the seminal case, Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, 509 U.S. 579 (1993), on limiting the admissibility of the “scientific” opinions of certain plaintiff’s experts that do not meet the standard of reliability under the Federal Rules of Evidence, particularly, Federal Rule of Evidence 702.    In Daubert, the court found that it was the Federal Rules of Evidence, not the Frye v. United States, 54 App. D. C. 46, 47, 293 F. 1013, 1014, "general acceptance" test which provide the standard for admitting expert scientific testimony.   In a trend benefiting the defense, it appears post-Daubert that the courts are becoming far more willing to review the underlying bases of plaintiffs’ expert witnesses to determine whether their opinions are scientifically valid and reliable evidence warranting presentation to the trier of fact. View the pdf
 
2. The Empty Chair Begins to Fill: Asbestos Claims Against Tobacco and Tobacco’s Counter-Attack Against Asbestos by Steven F. Wright, Defense Research Institute: 1998 Asbestos Personal Injury Seminar.
 
The relationship of tobacco use to lung disease is well known.  In response, asbestos defense attorneys have sued tobacco companies for contribution in asbestos disease cases.  As a result, the tobacco companies have launched a counter-attack.  This article summarizes the tactics used by the tobacco companies to skirt their responsibility for lung related illnesses in asbestos plaintiffs who had a history of smoking.
 
3. Sibling Rivalry: Third-Party Practice in Asbestos by Steven F. Wright, © 1995.  Andrews Continuing Education Institute: Asbestos Litigation 1995: Unresolved Issues.
 
 This article explores the pitfalls of third-party practice when defendants in asbestos actions sue other defendants either through third-party or cross claims.  The practice often leads to the compromising of defense interests in both the current trial and future litigation by providing plaintiffs with certain defendants as allies and also by having certain defendants lose sight of their goals and disclosing defense strategies to the plaintiffs. 
 
4. Theories for the Reduction of Damages.  Andrews Publications: 2000 Tobacco Litigation Conference, New Orleans presentation by Steven Wright, Wright & Associates, P.A., Portland, Maine.
 
Effect of cigarette smoking is greater than that of asbestos.
 
When a plaintiff sues for an asbestos related disease, the asbestos defendant should review all options for mitigating liability, including the synergistic effects of tobacco use and exposure to asbestos.  While asbestos may have been a contributing factor to the plaintiff’s injuries, defendants could still escape or mitigate liability by showing: 1) any asbestos exposure of the plaintiff was not the substantial cause of his illness or 2) another agent, namely cigarette smoke, was the sole cause of the illness or 3) another agent, namely cigarette smoke, was one cause of the illness, entitling the asbestos defendant to apportionment of the damage based on the effect of the plaintiff’s smoking history.
 
5. Alternate Causes of Mesothelioma.  Andrews Publications conference article by Steven Wright, Wright & Associates, P.A., Portland, Maine.
 
Mesotheliomas are tumors of the serosal membrane lining the pleural, pericardial and peritoneal cavities. While inhalation of asbestos fibers is generally considered the primary cause of mesothelioma, there are several documented cases of individuals being afflicted with mesothelioma without exposure to asbestos.   This article explores factors, other than asbestos, that may cause malignant mesothelioma, including smoking as co-carcinogenic and the Simian Virus (SV40) polio vaccination contamination as possibly contributing to the development of human mesothelioma by impairing the function of tumor suppressor and growth suppressive proteins. View the pdf
 
6. Asbestos-Related Diseases Attributable to Smoking.  Andrews Publications: 1998 Tobacco Litigation Conference by Steven Wright, Wright & Associates, P.A., Portland, Maine.
 
Evidence showing that the cigarette industry should share in the tort liability for asbestos-related health claims. It is well known that cigarette smoke contributes to the disease processes in many individuals claiming asbestos related diseases, including lung cancer, fibrotic changes on x-ray, pleural plaques, other cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD or COLD), and mesothelioma.   Historically, asbestos defendants and their insurers have paid billions of dollars in defense and indemnity costs for personal injuries claims caused by tobacco.  Based upon the evidence in numerous studies linking tobacco as a sole or contributing cause to lung disease in individuals exposed to asbestos, the tobacco industry should share in the liability for asbestos-related health claims. 
 
7. Minor Defendants’ Viewpoint of the Class Action: The New Wave of Asbestos Litigation. Andrews Communications, The Asbestos Future Class Action and The Future of Mas Tort Litigation, by Steven Wright, Wright & Associates, P.A., Portland, Maine, © 1993.
 
This article reviews the risks and pitfalls of peripheral defendants who become embroiled in large consolidations or class actions. View the pdf
 
8. Defending the Shipyard Case.  Asbestos Litigation: The Eye of the Storm Seminar, 1991 by Steven Wright, Wright & Associates, P.A., Portland, Maine.
 
Would the existence of a warning label, a cautionary instruction, have made any difference in the conditions under which the plaintiff labored?
 
Often asbestos plaintiffs who worked in shipyards sue under a failure to warn theory.  The key issue in such a failure to warn case is “proximate cause”.   In a products liability case, Plaintiff must demonstrate that defendant’s actions or failures to act were a substantial contributing factor to the injuries suffered by plaintiff.   In the context of a shipyard case, a key question is “Would the existence of a warning label, a cautionary instruction, have made any difference in the conditions under which the plaintiff labored?”   In other words, what information could have been transmitted to the plaintiff that was not already known to the United States Government, the shipyards, both US Navy and contract shipyards, and to the unions?

 This paper argues that given the level of knowledge of the United States Government and the unions had about the dangers of asbestos, a warning label or cautionary instruction by the manufacturer of an asbestos containing product, would not have made any difference in the conditions under which the plaintiff labored, thus the lack of the warning could not have been a contributing factor in the cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. 
 
9. Discovery of Worksite Information by Steven F. Wright, Defense Research Institute: 1991 Asbestos Medicine Seminar
 
 This article serves as a primer for methods of conducting discovery when defending a case involving an asbestos related injury.  It also explores the basic premise of proximate cause and what a plaintiff must prove in a products liability case in order to prevail.
 
10. Synergy:  The Industry's Response by Steven F. Wright, Andrews Continuing Education Institute, Tobacco Litigation 2001.
 
With the fairly recent disclosure of the tobacco company’s hidden knowledge of the dangers of smoking, the public has now learned that, as early as 1967, the tobacco companies were studying or exploring the synergistic relationship between cigarette smoking, asbestos exposure, and certain lung diseases. Commentators and lawyers who have reviewed the formerly secret papers have documented the fraud that the industry perpetrated on the public, the media and the government regarding the relationship between smoking and health.  Review of these documents from the asbestos/smoking synergy perspective provides some interesting insight into what the tobacco companies knew about the specific danger of exposure to asbestos combined with cigarette smoking and when they knew it.   This paper describes some of the documents found in tobacco companies’ files related to the "synergy" issue, with a sampling of the actual documents attached.
   
 
       Martindale-Hubbell
 

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