By Terry Baynes
Feb 25 (Reuters) - Former Delaware Superior Court judge
Peggy Ableman is joining the law firm McCarter & English, where
she will work on product liability litigation involving
pharmaceuticals, medical devices and defective product claims,
the firm announced on Monday.
Ableman comes to the firm's Wilmington, Delaware, office
with nearly 30 years of experience on the bench, where she
handled the asbestos litigation docket which consisted of more
than 500 cases.
Because of ethical concerns about a judge of 29 years
appearing in court as an advocate, Ableman will primarily work
behind the scenes, writing and editing briefs, consulting
clients on litigation and mentoring associates, rather than
litigating in court, she told Reuters.
She said her workload as a judge, combined with the low pay,
motivated her to leave the bench.
"Most people looked at me like I was nuts to work so hard
for so little," she said, describing her time as a judge.
McCarter Chairman Michael Kelly praised Ableman for playing
a significant role in shaping Delaware law in the toxic torts
"I always found her to be very bright and decisive," Kelly
said of practicing before Ableman. "She wasn't afraid to make a
Ableman made national headlines in 2011 when she ordered all
of the lawyers in an asbestos case to attend civility training
over Labor Day weekend after the litigation became too
"Lunch and dinner will be ordered in at counsel's expense.
Attendees are encouraged to bring sleeping bags, toothbrushes,
teddy bears, and jammies, as the agenda will be exhaustive," she
wrote. She added in a footnote: "These terms reflect the Court's
impression of the childish level to which this litigation has
The case ended up settling before the emergency refresher
course, Ableman said. "I got my point across."
A frequent speaker at national asbestos litigation
conferences, Ableman said the end point for asbestos litigation
is likely on the horizon. The mesothelioma cases, dealing with a
type of cancer caused specifically by asbestos, have largely
drawn to a close, she said. Most of the remaining cases involve
lung cancer, which can have numerous causes, including smoking.
Those cases are unlikely to have the same big jury awards as the
mesothelioma cases because of the more complicated causation
issues, she said.
Before becoming a judge, Ableman was the first female
assistant U.S. Attorney for Delaware from 1979 to 1983 before
becoming, at age 32, the second woman to serve as a judge in
In addition to private practice, Ableman is also teaching a
product liability course at Villanova Law School in
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