New Jersey Asbestos Judge to Change

Asbestos personal injury litigation in New Jersey has been centralized in Middlesex County for many years, and since September 2012, all such cases have been assigned to Judge Vincent LeBlon.  After presiding over the asbestos docket for nearly 18 months, a change is coming in New Jersey, with Judge Ana Viscomi slated to take over for and replace Judge LeBlon overseeing all asbestos cases pending in Middlesex County.  Judge Viscomi previously served during the 1990s as the Special Master for asbestos litigation in Middlesex County, and later was an Administrative Law Judge before being appointed to the state court bench in 2012.

At the Harris Martin New Jersey Asbestos Litigation seminar last week, the current Special Master for Middlesex County asbestos litigation made public this announcement, and provided some guidance on the transition period.  Although Judge Viscomi’s assignment is effective on March 1, 2014, Judge LeBlon will handle all asbestos motions scheduled through March 14, 2014.  Judge Viscomi will handle motions scheduled thereafter, beginning with those set for the March 28, 2014, return date.  To help with the transition, Judge LeBlon’s current law clerk will be reassigned to Judge Viscomi, and Judge Viscomi will move into Judge LeBlon’s chambers. The Special Master also explained that, as the transition nears, her office will issue further information, including with respect to possible changes in the practice of listing cases for trial and the renewing of the previously used attorney advisory committee to facilitate communication with the asbestos bar.

Judge LeBlon has been viewed by many defense practitioners as less plaintiff-oriented than was his predecessor, Judge McCormick.  It remains to be seen whether Judge Viscomi will be similarly viewed.

A copy of the order reassigning the asbestos litigation to Judge Viscomi is available here.

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