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John Johnson Timeline: Did The Extra Deposition Time Sought By Defense Lawyers And Granted By The Court Contribute To Mr. Johnso

September 21, 2011: John Johnson, a 68 year-old retired plumber and avid mountain biker, is diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos. bicycle

October 3, 2011: John Johnson and his 66 year old wife, Sue Johnson, file a lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court against entities whose products or jobsites were involved in Mr. Johnson’s exposures to asbestos. Sue_090811
September 8 2011

December 5, 2011: The presiding judge of the coordinated asbestos docket for Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego Counties hears a motion filed on behalf of Mr. and Mrs. Johnson to specially set their case for trial and limit the duration of defense deposition questioning. The motion is supported by declarations from Mr. Johnson’s treating doctor, surgical oncologist Dr. Robert Cameron , in which Dr. Cameron opines that the stress of a prolonged deposition would likely hasten Mr. Johnson’s decline and urges the court to limit the deposition to no more than 12 hours. The judge sets the case for trial on March 26, 2012, but refuses to order any reduction in the 20 hours of defense deposition questioning allowed by court rules. Cameron_Robert
Dr. Robert Cameron

December 12, 2011 – January 5, 2012: Mr. Johnson’s direct examination is completed followed by 5 sessions of defense questioning. At this point, the defense had questioned Mr. Johnson for over 11 hours—just shy of the 12 hour maximum recommended by Dr. Cameron.
December12_2011
December 12, 2011

January 6, 2012: Defense counsel request the judge for additional time beyond 20 hours to complete their questioning of Mr. Johnson. The request is made via conference call and is unsupported by evidence meeting the “good cause” standard set by court rules for subjecting a terminally ill patient to more than 20 hours of questioning. Over the strong objection of the Johnsons’ attorneys, the judge granted the defense an additional 5 hours of questioning—or a total of 25 hours. January6_2012
January 6, 2012

January 6 – 13, 2012: Mr. Johnson is questioned by defense counsel over the course of 4 sessions. At the conclusion of the January 13 session, 21 hours and 36 minutes of defense questioning had been completed. In the absence of the judge’s order granting an additional five hours, the deposition would have been completed. January11_2012
January 11, 2012

January 17 – 18, 2012: Prior to the planned resumption of the deposition on January 17, Mr. Johnson experiences increased shortness of breath and is unable to proceed. He is taken by paramedics to Hoag hospital on the evening of January 17. He is later released and seeks treatment from Dr. Cameron on January 18. Unfortunately, there is nothing Dr. Cameron can do to relieve the respiratory distress. Mr. Johnson is unable to be deposed for the remainder of the week, believing that with some rest, he will feel better and complete the deposition the following week. January13_2012
January 13, 2012

January 19 – 22, 2012: Mr. Johnson’s condition worsens. The shortness of breath makes it increasingly difficult to eat and sleep. Mr. Johnson understands that if he does not complete the 3 hours and 24 minutes of defense deposition questioning required by the extended 25 hour limit, none of his testimony will be admissible at trial and his case will be dismissed for lack of evidence. Mr. Johnson feels duty-bound to complete the deposition in order to avoid leaving Mrs. Johnson without funds needed to pay his medical bills and meet her future financial needs. Despite his pain, Mr. Johnson vows to complete his deposition on Monday January 23. January23_2012_uprightchair
January 23, 2012

January 23, 2012: Mr. Johnson’s deposition resumes. He is questioned in a recliner chair for 1 hour and 48 minutes and asks for a break, but does not want to stop until the remaining time is completed. Defense counsel are excused and he takes a nap for two hours. The deposition resumes and Mr. Johnson struggles through the remaining time, finally completing the deposition after 6:00 p.m. Forty minutes later, he collapses and is not breathing. Paramedics arrive, place him on a mechanical ventilator and take him to Hoag hospital. January23_2012_1
January 23, 2012

January 24, 2012: Mr. Johnson is pronounced dead at 12:28 p.m. The Hoag medical records state under final diagnoses: “ Sudden cardiac arrest while giving a courtroom deposition.” The Death Certificate identifies the cause of death as “ cardio pulmonary arrest” as the result of “ cardiogenic shock” and “acute respiratory failure.” “End stage mesothelioma” is listed as the underlying cause. Death Certificate Johnson

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