- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 8, 2002

ASSOCIATED PRESS
The U.S. Supreme Court has again refused to get involved in a dispute over a giant asbestos trial in West Virginia that big corporations say could cost them millions.
The court last month refused to stop the trial from starting. Yesterday, the high court said that it would not review arguments from Mobil Corp. and other large companies that the large trial was unconstitutional.
"These fundamentally unfair procedures will render West Virginia a national asbestos-litigation magnet," the Supreme Court was told in a filing by Christopher Landau, the attorney for General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler Corp., which supported Mobil Corp.
The trial combines the cases of about 8,000 people who say they have been exposed to asbestos. They live in as many as 35 states and should not be allowed to join in one trial, according to the filing.
The West Virginia Supreme Court has endorsed trial consolidations to resolve the large number of asbestos suits in that state.
The Supreme Court still could get involved later, after the trial is over and any lower court appeals completed.
The justices also:
Refused to consider whether R.M.S. Titanic Inc., a Florida company, owned thousands of items recovered from the wreck of the Titanic and could sell them.
A judge had given the company exclusive rights to bring up items from the wreck. Courts refused, however, to let the company sell the artifacts, which include passengers' personal belongings.
Declined to decide whether the government violated the free-speech rights of an electrician who started an unlicensed radio station for homosexual listeners.
Jerry Szoka had been fined $11,000 and ordered to shut down the station he operated in a nightclub in Cleveland. He challenged the one-time ban on small FM stations such as his.
Refused to revive a longtime case by pilots of the former Eastern Airlines involving seniority rights in their union contract.
The airline was acquired by Continental Airlines Inc. in 1986, and a group of pilots say that Continental did not honor the contract and that other companies that file for bankruptcy protection could lay off senior employees in violation of a contract.
Refused to consider arguments by Detroit newspapers in a labor dispute dating to 1995 when about 2,500 newspaper workers walked off their jobs at the Detroit News and Detroit Free Press. The newspapers contend they were wrongly forced to arbitrate over the firings of some of the striking workers.
Declined to stop a case accusing Iran's government of confiscating a U.S. company's investments. The refusal extends a 20-year court fight between Iran and McKesson HBOC, which had dairy investments there. At issue was whether Iran could be sued in U.S. courts by investors and how much damages could be awarded.
Gave a group of professional soccer players a third straight defeat in their challenge of Major League Soccer. The players, who accused the league of being an illegal monopoly, also lost in a jury trial and before a federal appeals court.
Their class-action antitrust lawsuit asserted that the league conspired with the U.S. Soccer Federation to create a monopoly by blocking other leagues and depressing salaries.


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