May 2007

The judiciary is under continuous attack in this country.  The tort reform lobby feels that tearing down the judiciary, one of the foundations of our democracy, will advance it’s interests.  They attack “reactionary judges” for decisions they don’t like, saying they are legislating from the bench. 

 Justice Sandra O’Conner was recently interviewed by Fox and does a wonderful job of articulating what is wrong with these attacks on our government.  The threat of intimidation, sanctions or even jail time has a chilling effect on the judicial branch.  This branch of government has protected our democracy for years by operating independent of the pressures legislators face.  More people need to take up the cause of protecting our judiciary, it is a worthy cause.


Indeed, when we got a Bill of Rights giving every citizen the right to due process of law, to freedom of speech, and freedom of religion and so on, the only way that can be enforced is to give courts the power to overturn actions by the legislative or executive branch that impinge on those freedoms. And that’s how it has to be enforced. So if you start imposing sanctions and punishment on judges for particular decisions within their jurisdiction, we have a problem.”  Justice Sandra Day O’Conner


From a story in the New York Times: “The city medical examiner has now accepted what thousands of people with 9/11-related illnesses and their doctors have long understood: that ground zero dust was harmful and even deadly,” said Representative Carolyn B. Maloney.

Felicia Dunn-Jones’ death has been related to her dust exposure on 9/11.  She was exposed to the dust cloud from the collapse of the towers as she left her office a few blocks from the World Trade Center buildings.  After 9/11 she came down with a terrible cough and began experiencing respiratory problems.  She passed away 5 months after the attack on the World Trade Center.  An autopsy showed Mrs. Dunn-Jones’ death was caused by sarcoidosis, a disease associated with dust exposures.

Officials are gathering evidence that points to sarcoidosis or something very similar to sarcoidosis as the disease caused by the dust from the disaster.  Hopefully this first step will aid all of the others suffering from dust illnesses related to this disaster in their quest for justice. 

The tiger who reigned over one of the most successful eras in LSU sports, Mike V, passed away today.  Here’s to Mike V’s sucessor bringing as much good luck to the school as Mike V did.  We’ll miss you Mike V. 

Mike V

Cracker Barrell stores have pulled hamburgers from their menus after a patron eating a hamburger encountered a piece of metal in her burger.  The woman was taken to the hospital after she began bleeding from the mouth.  The Cracker Barrell restautant manager inspected the patron’s half eaten burger and found a piece of a razor blade embedded in the middle of the burger.  The victim says she will continue to patronize Cracker Barrell, as it is one of her favorite restaurants.


For the first time a study has linked lung disease found in 9-11 rescue workers to the dust from the World Trade Center buildings.  The rate of sarcoidosis in 9-11 rescuers after the World Trade Center disaster was 5 times higher than the rate of the disease in the 15 years before the disaster.  The disease can produce inflamation in the lungs which breeds lumps of cells called granulomas. 

So sarcoidosis has been identified as one of the diseases workers contracted from breathing Trade Center dust.  Hopefully there will be further studies to determine what other diseases these workers have contracted from the World Trade Center dust.

This article is from two years ago, about a verdict I got for the family of a mesothelioma victim.  The court of appeal previously affirmed the verdict in this opinion and the Supreme Court denied writs this week, therefore the verdict is final:

Monroe Jury Says Paper Mill Failed to Provide Its Employees With a Safe Workplace

MONROE, La., Aug. 8 /PRNewswire/ — The Baton Rouge-based law firm of LeBlanc & Waddell, LLP, has announced a $4.5 million jury award delivered on behalf of the family of a West Monroe man who died from an asbestos-related cancer in 2000. The jury of three men and nine women delivered the unanimous verdict late last week in the courtroom of James H. Boddie Jr. Jurors deliberated for two hours before finding that Walter Graves Jr.’s employer had failed to provide Mr. Graves with a workplace free of the dangers of asbestos exposure.

“The Graves family could have been saved from this loss had the defendant done the right thing by protecting its employees, including Mr. Graves, from the dangers of asbestos,” says Cameron Waddell, lead counsel for the family. “We are grateful to the jury for holding the defendant accountable for this failure.” Mr. Graves worked for a Monroe-area paper mill from 1943 until his retirement in 1985. His employer, the Brown Paper Mill, was purchased in 1955 by the Olin Corporation, which was later known as Riverwood International Corporation. It is currently known as Graphic Packaging International, Inc. The jury’s verdict totaled $4,539,925.02 in actual damages. Mr. Waddell represented Mr. Graves’ widow, Gertrude Graves, and daughters, LaDonna Graves Hixon and Karen Graves Barron. Other attorneys representing the Graves family at trial were Jody Anderman and Jeff Nicholson.  

Jurors in the case were told how Mr. Graves was exposed to asbestos for decades while working at the paper mill. At no time during his employment did Mr. Graves receive warnings or any information on what precautions to take while working with and around asbestos. The effects of exposure, including the onset of asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma, can take decades to surface. Mr. Graves was diagnosed with asbestos-related mesothelioma in April of 2000 and passed away two and a half months later. The defense was represented at trial by Tom Bergstedt of Bergstedt & Mount of Lake Charles, La.

The Anima Bamboo Collection Game, sold exclusively at Target stores has been recalled due to lead poisoning hazards.  The toys in the game set could be coated with paint containing lead, which is a toxic substance if ingested by young children.  The product comes in an orange box.  5,000 copies of the game were shipped between December 2006 and April 2007.


 Graco childrens products has recalled its Soft Blocks Tower Toys on the Graco Baby Einstein discover and play Activity Center, because the product poses a chocking hazard to children.  Graco has received 137 reports of infants chewing plastic film covering, including 32 reports of infants gagging on the covering and 49 who choked on the covering.  The product was sold at various retailers between February 2005 and December 2005 for about $80.

 Graco Activity Center