November 1, 2018 By Nicholas Vogelzang

Chicago Tuesday Asbestos Call: Eventful Call for Vogelzang Law

Chicago, IL (October 30, 2018) —

The Daley Center hosts an Asbestos Call every other Tuesday, which serves as the time and place to track the progress of a lawsuit in preparation for the trial date. The Vogelzang Law blog provides bi-weekly Asbestos Call updates.

There was a heated exchange in Room 2005 at the Daley Center on Tuesday regarding the case of James Thomas, a Local 17 Chicago Insulator who passed away this year from lung cancer. Vogelzang Law recently offered to have James Thomas’ son, who is also a Local 17 Insulator, testify regarding some of the work he performed with his father which exposed them both to asbestos. Trial in the matter was initially set for November 13, 2018, but two Big Oil defendants stated that they needed more time to prepare for trial given the additional testimony.

Vogelzang Law attorneys Michael Maienza and Nicholas Vogelzang claimed that James Jr. would offer no new evidence and would simply corroborate testimony of his father’s asbestos exposure. In addition, they claimed that any defense expert’s testimony would remain unchanged and therefore, no additional time was required. The defendants vociferously disagreed in tandem, and Judge McWilliams ultimately decided that there would either be a trial continuance to provide more time for the Big Oil defendants or a trial without the testimony of James Jr. for the plaintiff.  The plaintiff secured a January 2019 trial date, and the case is now scheduled for a 12 person jury trial to begin the new year.

In another motion in the Robert Bergren mesothelioma case, an automotive defendant complained about recently tendered discovery, questioning their corporate structure as overly burdensome and a “delay tactic”. Plaintiff’s counsel stated that it was quite standard for such a large multi-billion dollar institution, and the judge allowed the discovery to proceed as scheduled.

Additionally, attorney Wyatt Berkover represented Mr. Ulrich Huemmerich, a lifelong engineer who passed away earlier this year after being diagnosed with mesothelioma. On Tuesday, Mr. Berkover brought a motion against an asbestos-containing torch cutter manufacturer that Ulrich Huemmerich was exposed to during his work atseveral steel mills throughout the country. Mr. Berkover asked for the deposition of the person most knowledgeable of the corporate structure of the company. The torch cutter insisted that plaintiff had the wrong entity and they shouldn’t be brought into the litigation. However, Attorney Berkover pointed out to the judge that the documents provided were insufficient to show the defendant’s claim of no liability and were inapposite of what could be found online regarding the company. Judge McWilliams stated that she could not get her arms around such a complex argument in the span of two minutes and requested that plaintiff submit a brief summarizing the issues. The motion was entered and continued for two weeks until the next asbestos call on November 13.

In the final development this week, Vogelzang Law attorney Michael Maienza recently took the deposition of the corporate representative of the seller of asbestos-containing building panels which mesothelioma victim Bennett Mulder used frequently and on many job sites throughout his career. In that deposition, the defendant claimed that certain correspondence regarding their asbestos fiber suppliers was privileged.  After submitting a strong legal brief and making a salient argument, the judge found in favor of the plaintiff and that the document contained no privilege. The judge ordered that the defendant turn over the correspondence and related attachments.

The Vogelzang Law team continues to advocate for families across America who have been impacted by asbestos. Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer linked to asbestos fibers, which are easily inhaled when working with asbestos materials. As a result, insulators, pipefitters, construction workers, mechanics, and more are among the most at-risk groups.