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Two Texas lawyers apparently have avoided being held in contempt of Congress, after they submitted documents on clients’ silicosis suits requested by the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations in February. Kevin Schweers, spokesman for the subcommittee, says Jamshyd “Jim” Zadeh, principal in the Law Office of Jim Zadeh in Fort Worth, and John Fabry, an associate with Williams Bailey in Houston, were the only lawyers who failed to respond to letters the subcommittee sent on Feb. 17 to the managing partners at 13 firms — including seven in Texas. The subcommittee subpoenaed Fabry and Zadeh to appear before it on March 31 to answer questions about business arrangements they had with doctors who diagnosed their clients with silicosis, an often fatal lung disease caused by breathing in silica dust. The subcommittee began investigating silica litigation last year after U.S. District Judge Janis Graham Jack of Corpus Christi issued a scathing opinion in In Re: Silica Products Litigation. Jack wrote in the opinion that the silicosis diagnoses “were manufactured for money.” U.S. Rep. Joe Barton, R-Ennis, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee, told Zadeh and Fabry at the March 31 hearing that they had one final opportunity to cooperate with the committee in its investigation, or the committee would move to hold them in contempt. “You can do it the easy way or the hard way,” Barton said. Fabry, who turned over a substantial amount of documents prior to the March 31 hearing and submitted additional records on April 4, says the subcommittee dramatically narrowed the scope of its document request and agreed to respect privileges, particularly the attorney-client privilege. “We felt completely comfortable turning over the documents we did turn over,” Fabry says. Zadeh did not return two telephone calls seeking comment before presstime on April 6. Schweers says the subcommittee is trying to determine whether Fabry and Zadeh submitted all the information that had been requested.

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