Locke Faces Three Defense Attorneys
Former W.R. Grace executive Robert Locke faced a series of defense attorneys, all attempting to cast his testimony and testamentary capacity in a negative light. He first answered questions from Carolyn Kubota, lawyer for defendant Jack Wolter. Kubota made use of a memo Locke had sent to his former supervisor at Grace and Wolter, detailing Locke’s knowledge that Wolter had made efforts to educate and protect Grace workers.
Locke next answered questions from David Krakoff, attorney for defendant Henry Eschenbach. Locke testified that Eschenbach and his staff had taught Locke about asbestos monitoring and worker safety when Locke first started working in Grace’s asbestos-related operations. Locke testimony also revealed that Eschenbach had made a presentation to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) detailing the dangers of asbestosis and mesothelioma, including answering specific questions from NIOSH representatives.
Locke next faced Thomas Frongillo, attorney for defendant Robert Bettacchi. Frongillo fired two salvoes before the afternoon break, first questioning Locke about his employment history at Grace. During his career, Locke earned a series of promotions, often obtaining positions previously held by Mr. Bettacchi. Frongillo directed Locke to a memo he had written to his former supervisor, defendant Jack Wolter, and Bettacchi’s supervisor at that time, defendant Robert Walsh. The memo was very critical of Mr. Bettacchi’s success at managing of a Grace subsidiary company. Frongillo’s questions repeatedly emphasized that Locke himself had wanted the management job at the subsidiary company, but that Grace had placed Bettacchi in charge. Frongillo pointed out the various ways that Locke was critical of Bettacchi in the memo, and that Locke had not sent a copy to Bettacchi, but rather to Walsh and Wolter, behavior Frongillo characterized as “backstabbing.” Locke pointed out that Walsh himself, as Bettacchi’s supervisor, had asked for the memo, and thus the critical tone and list of addressees were appropriate.
Frongillo then shifted gears and began to directly attack Locke’s capacity, mind, and motives. Frongillo introduced into evidence Locke’s complaint from a concurrent civil lawsuit in which he has sued W.R. Grace for employment discrimination. The complaint detailed many mental health and work problems suffered by Locke, problems he claims Grace caused when he worked there. Frongillo weaved Locke’s current lawsuit against Grace, his two mental breakdowns while a Grace employee, his past and current mental health medications, and his testimony for the prosecution in this trial together in an obvious effort to convince the jury to put little weight behind Locke’s words on the stand. As Frongillo continued through this line of questioning, an ill-sounding Judge Molloy called for the afternoon recess.
Mark Lancaster – posted 5:40 pm
Posted: March 26th, 2009 under Law.