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Typical lawsuits

Recently the incredibly brilliant voters in Texas passed proposition 12, another of the seemingly endless amendments to the Texas constitution. In the guise of insurance reform, this limits non-economic damages (pain and suffering, loss of companionship, punitive damages, etc.) to $250,000. Blatantly pandering, though is section c) which removes the medical damages restriction, and allows the legislature to set non-economic damage limits on any lawsuit, including environmental ones starting Jan 1, 2005. Coincidentally, Haliburton and many other companies are facing just such lawsuits which will be adjudicated after this deadline.

On May 9, 2002, it was reported that Enron operated about 27 pipelines in Texas and that contamination from these pipelines could cost $15 million to cleanup. The full scope of the contamination is not yet known. Enron sold the pipelines while retaining the environmental liability then transferred the liability to a corporation called TerraCorp., which has no assets. The Texas Railroad Commission has stated that the contamination occurred when Enron owned the pipelines. Associated Press 5/9/02

On may 3, 2002, it was reported that a Texas jury ordered construction and engineering firm Kellogg, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of oil services provider Haliburton, to pay the family of a lung cancer victim $5.5 million. The jury found the defendant grossly negligent in causing the deceased plaintiff's cancer by failing to provide a safe workplace. The suit alleged that occupational exposure to asbestos while working as a pipefitter, boilermaker and welder from 1965 to 1986 caused his lung cancer. While the jury found the victim's smoking was a contributing factor, they awarded the plaintiff's family $5.5 million - all in punitive damages. This is the largest known asbestos verdict against Kellogg, Brown & Root to date. Harris Martin Columns: Asbestos 5/3/002

11 Nov 2003 - Oil services firm sees a 33% increase in asbestos personal injury claims over the past 9 months

Haliburton, the oil services firm has seen a significant increase in asbestos personal injury claims filed since December 2002. The company is now facing 435,000 claims versus 328,000 claims in December 2002. The company has reached an agreement with attorneys for asbestos victims that will cap the cash payment Haliburton would make to an asbestos trust fund at $2.8 billion. Under the plan, the company would also put about $1.433 billion in stocks into then trust. The agreement must be agreed to by 75% of the asbestos claimants. Houston Chronicle on 11/07/2003

That which does not kill you only makes you stranger.