Legal News

Proposed Order Regarding San Francisco Asbestos General Orders

In September 2011, Judge Harold Khan of San Francisco Superior Court circulated to the Asbestos Bar a proposed Order rescinding most of the asbestos General Orders. The court set a schedule for comments and a hearing on the proposed Order. After reviewing the written submissions and hearing the oral comments, Judge Teri Jackson ordered the Asbestos Bar to form a joint committee consisting of six representatives each from the defense and the plaintiff sides to meet and confer and submit three separate reports per a set schedule identifying those General Orders that the parties mutually agree are outdated and should be vacated, those the parties agree should remain in effect either as written or revised in a mutually agreeable fashion, and those on which the parties could not reach agreement. The court set certain conditions which if not met would trigger the immediate rescission of the General Orders. The court intends to issue a final order no later than July 2, 2012.

The committee members having been selected, relatively quick work was made in identifying those General Orders on which all parties could agree should be vacated because they are moot or outdated. Although there has been some consensus on broad concepts, there was virtually no agreement as to what General Orders – or specific procedures – should remain in effect. The two committees submitted their final reports as of May 18th, along with alternative submissions from several law firms registering their differences. The defense committee has put forward a single proposed Order that covers all the issues the joint committee had discussed and agreed needed to be addressed in some fashion. The plaintiff committee submitted a series of proposed General Orders, some of which are entirely new and some of which are merely updated versions of current General Orders. There will be a series of meetings between Judge Jackson and the joint committee to determine if any common ground can be reached on a single proposal for her to take to the rest of the SFSC judges. A public comment hearing will be held on June 11th from 4:00 P. M. to 6:00 P. M., followed by one final meeting between Judge Jackson and the joint committee prior to the decision being issued by the court on July 2, 2012.