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Law firm barred from Ohio court in asbestos case


CLEVELAND--An Ohio judge presiding over an asbestos bodily harm case has barred the plaintiff's former law firm from practicing again before the court, saying an attorney with the firm lied to the court, submitted false asbestos claims and broke other court rules.

Judge Harry A. Hanna of the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court in Cleveland issued his ruling Jan. 18 against Brayton Purcell L.L.P. The judge cited numerous violations committed by Novato, Calif.-based attorney Christopher Andreas.

Mr. Andreas, who is listed as a junior partner on the law firm's Web site, had represented the estate of Jack Kananian against cigarette maker Lorillard Tobacco Co. of Greensboro, N.C.

In his ruling, Judge Hanna listed 13 infractions committed by Mr. Andreas. The judge also found that Mr. Andreas committed other violations that "paled" in comparison to those the judge detailed. Among the noted violations, the judge said Mr. Andreas:

  • Lied to the court about destructive medical testing performed on Mr. Kananian's lung tissue;

  • Submitted false claims to an asbestos trust regarding Mr. Kananian's exposure to asbestos in a shipyard;

  • Lied to the court about his knowledge of his firm's amendment of the claim to the asbestos trust;

  • And withheld e-mails the court requested he produce to show his involvement in amending the claim against the trust.
"The record before this court indicates that Brayton Purcell institutionally and Christopher Andreas individually have failed to abide by our rules. They have not conducted themselves with dignity. They have not honestly discharged the duties of an attorney in this case. Therefore, they have forfeited their privileges to practice before this court," Judge Hanna wrote.

Judge Hanna, however, rejected Lorillard's motion to dismiss the case, ruling that the plaintiffs had not violated any court rules.

Mr. Andreas as well as the estate's current attorney and Lorillard's attorney did not return calls.