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Silber Pearlman closed its Houston office Nov. 14, laying off five attorneys, and furloughed another three lawyers at the plaintiffs firm’s headquarters in Dallas. Steven Baron, an equity partner in Dallas who manages the firm, says the cutbacks are directly linked to tort reform. The firm handles litigation filed by plaintiffs suffering from diseases caused by asbestos and silica, and there’s simply less work in that area, Baron says. “We are not going to handle as many cases as we used to handle because of the reforms,” Baron says. Earlier this year, the Texas Legislature passed S.B. 15 and Gov. Rick Perry signed it into law. The law limits asbestos and silica litigation by setting new requirements for plaintiffs who bring personal injury and wrongful death suits for exposure to asbestos or silica. The law slims the docket of asbestos suits in Texas by setting up a system to separate plaintiffs who show impairment following asbestos exposure from those who have been exposed and show no impairment. Following the layoffs, Silber Pearlman has 11 lawyers in Dallas, Baron says. Dallas-based plaintiffs firm Baron & Budd, another firm that handles toxic-tort suits, has a majority ownership interest in Silber Pearlman, says Baron. Baron is unrelated to Baron & Budd name partner Fred Baron.

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