New York Daily News: Toxic reaction over speedy shift of asbestos-case judge in Manhattan Supreme Court’s civil term

Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York executive director Tom Stebbins was quoted in a New York Daily News article about the sudden and suspicious reassignment of a judge overseeing the New York City asbestos docket:

“Sacking Justice Billings after only a few months certainly looks suspicious. This court is historically corrupt and chaotic. It has been a ‘Judicial Hellhole’ for three years straight,” said Tom Stebbins, executive director of the Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York.

“Reassigning a key judge after just six months only adds to the appearance of chaos and corruption.”

The trial of disgraced former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver pulled back the curtain on shady aspects of asbestos litigation in New York, where verdicts are triple the national average.

It emerged that the influential firm Weitz & Luxenberg — where Silver was of-counsel despite doing no legal work — was given preferential access to potential jurors in the civil courthouse.

The practice was discontinued and Silver — who raked in big bucks referring cases to the firm, which boasts over $17 billion in verdicts and settlements — was cut loose amid corruption allegations.

Silver is awaiting retrial on those charges.

A courts official insisted the decision to remove Billings was not due to complaints by attorneys on either side of asbestos litigation.

The full article can be read here.

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