Update on San Francisco Asbestos Trial Dates and Settlement Conference Process

Judge Lee Going Back To "In-Person" MSC System For Preference And "Five Year" Cases

Judge Lee, the presiding judge of the San Francisco Asbestos Department, has indicated that asbestos cases up against the five year date or set for preference will return to having settlement conferences with Pang Ly, the court's settlement commissioner.

For those cases that are running up to the five year date or have preference, there will be a settlement conference with Commissioner Ly on the Thursday preceding the Monday trial date. That MSC can be attended by counsel, provided final "decision makers" are available by telephone.

Upon assignment of the case to a trial department, the court has the discretion to schedule a further settlement conference for the remaining parties, and notes that the court may require personal attendance of ALL participating insurers.  Judge Lee further noted that the court may issue an order to show cause as to why sanctions should not be imposed as to any offending parties. A request for relief from personal attendance may be made in advance of the MSC, but will require supporting documentation.  An absent defendant who was not granted relief from attendance will be required to inform the court of the names and titles of all persons who have "full and final settlement authority" as well as the defendant's position on the case's settlement range and their basis for that position.

Judge Lee is unhappy with the parties failing to get asbestos cases settled before trial assignment, and is now requiring all parties to appear for trial call on every case, even the cases that the court has already determined will be continued.  It remains to be seen how this new system will be implemented.  In the meantime, it does not appear likely that any case will be assigned to a trial department this year unless the case has preference status or is up against its five year date.

For more information about this development regarding San Francisco asbestos trial dates and the settlement conference process, please contact us.