After an initial asbestos trial in February and March of 2008 found in favor of DuPont, a new trial was granted to the plaintiff originally set for a year after the first one began, but that projected February date was pushed back until April. Judge Donald Floyd of the 172nd District Court presided over the case of Willis Whisnant Jr. et al vs. DuPont, which was first heard in February and March of 2008. Whisnant’s lawyers claimed that the former B.F. Shaw pipe fitter contracted mesothelioma from asbestos exposure where he was a contract worker in 1966. Whisnant later perished from his cancer. Jurors did not find DuPont at fault during the first trial despite the evidence brought by the plaintiff’s attorney, Glen Morgan. Morgan argued that DuPont failed to create a safe work environment and forewarn workers of asbestos exposure’s deadly consequences, even though the company knew of the dangers for decades.
After the first trial, Morgan filed on May 28, 2008, to have a second hearing of the case, claiming that the jury improperly ruled against the vast amount of evidence brought before it. Judge Floyd granted the motion and set the new date for February of 2009. Morgan theorized that a local newspaper, the Southeast Texas Record, might have influenced the jury member’s decision by printing articles leaning in favor of DuPont and then making those papers free outside the courthouse. DuPont’s lawyer, M. C. Carrington, was critical of the decision and filed an appeal on July 24, 2008 claiming that it was like a child asking for a “do over” for a game that did not go his way. Carrington noted that the availability of free newspapers outside the court should not have swayed the jury, but the appeal was denied, and the new trial was set for February 9, 2009; however, before the jury could be chosen, the date was moved to April.