CORPUS CHRSITI, TX — A Texas state judge levied a $500,000 fine against lawyers of Provost & Umphrey, a Beaumont, TX, law firm representing workers at Alcoa Inc.’s Reynolds Metal unit, according to a story inThe Detroit News. The fine is reported to be due to duplicate filings of asbestos lawsuits.

The workers claimed they were sickened by asbestos at company work sites. Since 1999, 7,000 asbestos lawsuits have been brought against Alcoa, costing the corporation about $1 million each year, according to the company.

Reynolds claimed the workers’ lawyers tried to circumvent rules requiring random assignment of cases by filing four similar single-plaintiff lawsuits in three different courts within one hour on Feb. 27, 2002. According to the company, the suits alleged “the very same claims and damages” against Reynolds and 50 defendants.

Judge Nanette Hasette in Corpus Christi ruled Nov. 7th that the workers lawyers “abused the judicial process” and “disrespected the integrity of the judicial system.” Provost & Umphrey partner Bryan Blevins said his firm disagrees with the court order and is evaluating its options, including appeal.

Publication date: 11/18/2002