Legal Ethics

Union Carbide Cites Asbestos Suits by Judge’s Dad in Motion to Overturn Record Verdict

Union Carbide claims a record $322 million asbestos verdict should be overturned because the Mississippi trial judge failed to disclose that his father had filed two asbestos lawsuits.

A motion (PDF) filed Wednesday by Union Carbide seeks to overturn the award to Thomas “Tony” Brown Jr., the largest asbestos verdict in U.S. history, report the Clarion Ledger, the Forbes Full Disclosure blog and Legal Newsline, published by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform. Union Carbide was one of two defendants in the case.

Union Carbide says its lawyers decided to investigate after Judge Eddie Bowen of Smith County made offhand remarks at trial that his father may have been exposed to asbestos while working at Ingalls Shipbuilding. The lawyers learned that Bowen’s father, Howard Bowen, filed two asbestos lawsuits. In one of them his lawyer was Richard “Dickie” Scruggs, who pleaded guilty to scheming to bribe two judges. Both of the asbestos suits settled.

A lawyer for Brown told the Clarion Ledger that the judge was fair to both sides in the case. A footnote in the motion disagrees. It alleges Bowen’s bias was evident in his rulings, his comments and his coaching of Brown’s lawyers.

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