Cahill Can't Dodge Asbestos Victims' Spoliation Claims - Law360
by Aebra Coe
Law360, New York (April 6, 2016, 2:58 PM ET) -- A New Jersey federal judge on Wednesday shut down Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP’s efforts to escape a proposed fraud class action accusing it of conspiring with former client BASF to destroy evidence and conceal the fact that the company’s products contained asbestos.
U.S. District Judge Jose L. Linares rejected Cahill’s and BASF Catalysts LLC’s motions to dismiss fraud and fraudulent concealment claims brought against them over the alleged plot to suppress future asbestos lawsuits against the multinational chemical manufacturing corporation by destroying and manipulating evidence, rejecting their contention thatasbestos victims had failed to properly plead their case.
“Defendants had a clear duty to preserve that ran to a specific civil plaintiff, and then allegedly destroyed the evidence that would be required by similar individuals in the numerous lawsuits that were reasonably foreseeable,” Judge Linares said.
The matter of whether the plaintiffs’ allegations are true or not is yet to be seen, but, according to the court, discovery should proceed in order to determine the factual aspects of the case.
The Third Circuit ruled in September 2014 that a New Jersey federal judge had improperly dismissed the claims of fraud and fraudulent concealment against BASF and Cahill, after finding allegations surrounding the mid-1980s destruction of testing records showing asbestos in talc mined in Virginia were well-pled.
After the plaintiffs in the case filed their amended complaint in the district court litigation, the defendants renewed their motions for dismissal, arguing that the claims should be dismissed outright for lack of support.