Texas Courts Cannot Hear Mesothelioma Victim’s Case

The Texas Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling that would have allowed a Maine man to sue 21 Texas companies for causing his mesothelioma through asbestos exposure . Austin Richards was diagnosed with mesothelioma in December of 2005 after working as a mason in Maine for 30 years. He sued 21 companies in Texas courts in order to expedite the process so that he could see the outcome of his case before he died. The life expectancy of those diagnosed with mesothelioma is only 18 to 24 months following diagnosis.

The 21 companies included three that were based in Texas, and seven of those 21 companies requested that the trial be heard in Maine rather than in Texas. Richards argued that should his case be tried in his home state, it would be moved to a multi-district court, which would take much longer than being directly tried in Texas. The defendants refused to agree to prevent the case from moving into the multi-district court if it were tried in Maine. This resulted in the trial judge keeping the case in Texas. They cited reasons for moving the trial as the expense and hassle of getting depositions from those knowledgeable about the case in Maine. Witnesses in Maine could not be held to Texas subpoenas. The Texas Supreme Court sided with the defendants by ordering that the trial be moved to Maine. They argued that the multi-district court was not designed for delay but to speed cases through the legal system. They also noted that by having the case in the Texas court system, the defendants who wished for a change of venue to Maine would be at a serious disadvantage. The case will be ordered to be heard in Maine.