Los Angeles — the governing board of the California Trial Lawyers Association Wednesday condemned American colleagues who flocked to Bhopal, India, to solicit victims of the Union Carbide gas leak as clients.

“We deplore and condemn the direct solicitation of victims of mass disasters such as_ reportedly occurred following the catastrophe at the Union Carbide. Facility in Bhopal, India,” the CTLA said in a statement.

An estimated 2,500 people died in the world’s worst chemical disaster and about 100,000 others were injured.

“We find particularly abhorrent both the use of such self-promoting devices as news conferences held at the scene of the disaster shortly following the event. As well as the premature filing of lawsuits in which overblown and unrealistic demands were made solely for the purpose of gaining publicity.

A spokesman for the 5,400member organization, the nation’s largest state trial bar, said no purpose would be served by pointing fingers at specific lawyers involved in Bhopal cases.

The first local litigation over the catastrophe was a $50billion class action suit on behalf of 40,000 victims that was filed Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court by a Los Angeles attorney. Two Santa Monica lawyers have filed similar action in New York courts.

Lawyers soliciting Bhopal civil cases have been criticized publicly of prying on victims by demanding huge contingency fees.

The association did not name any of the lawyers, but among the most famous to journey to India to solicit clients was Melvin Belli of San Francisco, known as the King of Torts.


Article extracted from this publication >> January 25, 1985