Practice Areas

Practice Area Details

Toxic Tort

Asbestos

Currently, the firm defends general contractors, industrial sub-contractors, and premises owners, as well as manufacturers and suppliers of building products, industrial products, and friction products, in personal injury and wrongful death asbestos cases.

Personal injury asbestos litigation began in the late 1970's with lawsuits filed against the major manufacturers and suppliers of asbestos thermal insulation products, primarily those products used in ship building, but also automotive friction products such as brakes and clutches. As the initial group of defendants were gradually forced into bankruptcy, and as plaintiffs’ counsel further investigated the many applications for asbestos products, the parties to the litigation changed. Fewer actions were filed by former shipyard workers; more were filed by construction workers. Contractors and sub-contractors involved in everything from commercial high rise construction to refinery repairs have been named as defendants. In addition, any owner of a commercial or industrial building where the original construction, renovations, or maintenance by outside contractors has required disturbing asbestos-containing materials is likely to be eventually brought into this litigation. Automotive workers continue to file suit, as they have since the litigation began. Now, instead of only targeting major manufacturers of automotive products, the plaintiffs are also suing wholesalers and retailers, including general goods chain stores and small automotive parts stores.

At RMKB, we represent both national and local companies which have been sued in San Francisco, Alameda, Los Angeles and Orange Counties, in State and Federal courts. Some of our clients are in dozens of cases. Others are involved in only one or two. As a result of our collective experience and extensive resources, we are able to provide excellent and efficient representation to all of our clients in the asbestos litigation. Our aim is to resolve these cases as expediently as possible, without unduly motivating plaintiffs’ counsel to further target our client in future cases. We believe our efforts have resulted in a substantial reduction in the number of cases filed against certain of our clients.

The asbestos litigation team is experienced in investigating claims against new defendants to the litigation and in developing defenses to those claims. In recent years, the team has taken several asbestos cases to trial, all with good results.

RMKB has done a considerable amount of work in the representation of insureds against asbestos-related bodily injury claims. In addition, from 1988 to 1990, the firm represented Manville Trust, established by the Federal Bankruptcy Court to litigate and settle asbestos bodily injury claims against Johns Manville Corporation. The representation included more than 1,500 cases in California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada and Wyoming, and comprised the entire scope of defense - pleadings, discovery trial and appeal. Lawyers from the firm tried cases throughout California.