Written by: Michael McCann

For most people, a deposition is unfamiliar territory. And even for those who have experienced a deposition in another setting, a deposition in an asbestos case can be a completely different experience.

What is a deposition?
A deposition does not take place in court; the deposition usually takes place in a conference room but it is sworn testimony. During the deposition, the witness will be asked questions by an attorney, usually an attorney who represents the opposing party or parties. The witness will provide answers to those questions under oath. A court reporter will be present and takes down all of the questions and answers, creating a transcript of the deposition, so that it can be referred to at a later date. At Shepard Law, we try to find a location that is most convenient to you, which is usually at a nearby hotel or conference center.

If I’ve been diagnosed with mesothelioma will I need to give a deposition?
Typically, in an asbestos case, the injured person is the most important witness, because he or she is usually in the best position to provide testimony about the asbestos-containing products that he or she worked with during their career. Since the testimony of the injured person is a central part of an asbestos case, a deposition of the injured person is usually taken if he or she is available to testify. Having said that, I must note that our clients’ health is of utmost importance to us. These depositions proceed based on the health of the deponent. If, in the middle of the deposition, you begin to feel too tired or sick to continue, we will immediately stop the deposition and have it continue on another day, when you are feeling better. We will make sure that your deposition is completed in the most convenient and efficient way possible.

Why is a deposition important?
Depositions are very important in civil cases in Massachusetts. Since a large majority of civil cases settle out of court before reaching trial, deposition testimony that identifies the asbestos-containing products that the injured person worked with is vital, because this is the evidence the parties will use when discussing settlement. Before trial, it’s typical that the only testimony in the evidence record will be deposition testimony, which makes it that much more important to the strength of the case. Since the burden of proof in a civil case is on the Plaintiff, we must present enough evidence to show that a particular product or products caused the injury that the Plaintiff has suffered. Deposition testimony is a key component of putting together a strong case.

What makes a deposition in an asbestos case unique?
Depositions in asbestos cases are different than other types of cases, because asbestos cases usually have multiple defendants. Therefore, there will typically be multiple attorneys that will cross-examine the witness at an asbestos deposition. These attorneys represent the various defendant companies that have been sued in the case, and each attorney will focus their questioning on the particular products that their client companies manufactured or sold. Each attorney will take turns asking questions, and one of our attorneys will be by your side during the entire deposition.

A deposition can certainly seem like an intimidating experience, but this is where our firm’s experience and expertise in these matters come in handy. Our attorneys have represented asbestos victims at countless depositions over the years. We understand how the process works, and will be at your side to protect your rights and your interests during the entire deposition.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness like mesothelioma or lung cancer, and would like to know more about your rights, please call us for a free, confidential consultation at (617) 451-9191.