Bernick Continues Cross of Locke
After a brief recess, Grace continued its cross-examination of Locke. The questioning began with a bang. After Bernick assured Locke that the questioning for the rest of the day would be brief, Locke responded that “Lawyers’ kids gotta eat too.”
Bernick responded with a sharp criticism of Locke, in which he attempted to portray him as a man who often flies off the handle, using three specific tactics: (1) painting him as a racist (at least to a certain degree) through evidence that he criticized Borgstead, a consultant of Grace, because he was a German; (2) evidence that he called a NIOSH researcher a “miserable little guy”; and (3) evidence that Locke was an elitist who attended Harvard and often made light of medical schools that weren’t in the top tier of medical schools.
Grace attempted to bring out Locke’s personality as a loose cannon to convince the jury that his free volunteering of information to the government was an unnecessary exaggeration. Throughout the cross, Locke was very calm and collected (unlike his alleged reputation) and unlike the sparks that flew in other cross-examinations in this trial, the most evasive answer Locke gave was “I don’t remember,” or “I don’t recall,” although at one point in the cross-examination, he expanded on an “I don’t know” answer to show that he couldn’t possibly know anything that the tremolite division of Grace was doing in the 1980s, since he had been transferred to a different department.
In his attempt to show that Grace acted reasonably, Bernick carefully phrased his questions to Locke, eventually getting him to admit that Grace reduced the level of tremolite in its expanding plants across the country to conform with government standards by 1978.Bernick presented further evidence, through the admissions of Locke, that Mr. Wood (known affectionately as “the chipper” or “Chip” to Locke) instituted a tremolite policy at Grace consisting of three parts: (1) a commitment to not expose consumers to hazards without precautions by minimizing unreasonable risks with use of products, (2) a company policy that asbestos count limits promulgated by government agencies would be the guide to whether a health risk existed, and (3) a policy to provide all government agency inquiries with straightforward, candid responses.Bernick also strongly criticized the drop test through Locke.
This test was used extensively by Grace to find the concentrations of tremolite asbestos.In an otherwise dry cross examination, Locke replied to a question from Bernick by saying, “Well, I guess they dropped the drop test,” to which Bernick laughed, “I thought that was going to be my line, Doctor!”
– Michael Doggett, 11:06 p.m. (Edited 12:36 p.m.)
Posted: March 25th, 2009 under Law.