- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 21, 2014

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The Mississippi State Bar Association has dropped a complaint against two McComb lawyers who had been cited for civil fraud after filing an asbestos lawsuit against a railroad.

The Enterprise-Journal reports (http://bit.ly/1utml54) the Bar in July asked the Mississippi Supreme Court to dismiss the complaint after a tribunal found no reason to pursue disbarment against attorneys William Guy and Thomas Brock. The court granted the motion this past week.

Guy and Brock sued Illinois Central Railroad Co. on behalf of nearly 170 former employees who claimed asbestos made them sick. The railroad company later sued Guy and Brock, arguing the lawyers knew that at least two of their clients lied about being involved in an earlier asbestos case.

A federal jury ruled in 2010 for the railroad. It ordered the lawyers to pay $420,000 to the railroad. A federal appeals court upheld the verdict in 2012.

Guy and Brock argued during trial that they didn’t know their clients had been plaintiffs in the earlier asbestos litigation - Cosey v. E.D. Bullard - one of several lawsuits with huge verdicts in the 1990s that led to calls for tort reform in Mississippi.

Illinois Central said it would not have settled with two former employees - Warren Turner Jr. for $120,000 in 2002 and Willie Harried for $90,000 in 2003 - if the company had known they had already been involved in the other asbestos lawsuit.

The case was a mass litigation filed in 1995 in Jefferson County that grew to represent hundreds of people from around the country who claimed asbestos made them sick.

The railroad argued that Harried and Turner had both testified that they each received several hundred thousand dollars in the Cosey case.

The Mississippi Supreme Court order does affect the federal court verdict but does allow Guy and Brock to continue to practice law.

The tribunal found that Harried testified in a deposition “that he had decided not to include any reference to a prior asbestos lawsuit,” and “neither Mr. Turner nor any other person had informed (Brock and Guy) of any prior asbestos-related litigation.”

Guy is a well-known attorney who served two terms as a state representative in the late 1960s and in the 1970s before moving to the Senate for one term. He ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor as a Democrat in 1995.

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Information from: Enterprise-Journal, http://www.enterprise-journal.com

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