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Preview: LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Asbestos Bankruptcy Legal News

LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Asbestos Bankruptcy Legal News



Headline Asbestos Bankruptcy Legal News from LexisNexis®



 



GM's Suit Against Manville Trust Barred By Injunction, Bankruptcy Judge Rules
POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. - General Motors LLC cannot sue Johns-Manville Corp.'s asbestos personal injury trust in Ohio state court to recover money for payments made to a widow because GM's claim for contribution is barred by the decades-old injunction issued in Johns-Manville's Chapter 11 case, a New York federal bankruptcy judge held July 24 (In re Johns-Manville Corporation, et al., No. 82-11656 [General Motors LLC v. Manville Personal Injury Settlement Trust, et al., No. 1:17-ap-1032], S.D. N.Y. Bkcy., 2017 Bankr. LEXIS 2063).



Appeals Court: Res Judicata Bars Claims, Offset For Trust Payments Proper
LOS ANGELES - A couple's previous asbestos action bars a widow's wrongful death action seeking loss of consortium, a California appeals court held July 11 while also concluding that the judge below properly offset an economic award for funeral and burial expenses with proceeds from settlements with asbestos bankruptcy trusts (Janet Stewart v. Union Carbide Corp., No. B267405, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 4).



Enough Evidence Exists To Continue Audit Of THAN Trust, Insurers Say
WILMINGTON, Del. - Insurers should be awarded summary judgment in their bid to force the T H Agriculture & Nutrition LLC (THAN) asbestos trust to comply with their audit rights because their initial court-ordered audit of the trust showed evidence of fraud and incorrect payments to asbestos claimants that the insurers were looking for, they argue in a July 14 brief in Delaware state court (AIU Insurance Company, et al. v. Philips Electronics North America Corporation, et al., No. 9852, Del. Chanc.).



7th Circuit Sends Jurisdiction Dispute In Crane's RICO Actions To Merits Panel
CHICAGO - A Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals judge on July 11 denied a bid by frequent asbestos defendant John Crane Inc. to strike a motion filed by a law firm accused by the company of fraud and racketeering to dismiss an appeal in the dispute, saying the dismissal motion will be decided by a merits panel (John Crane Inc. v. Shein Law Center Ltd., et al., Nos. 17-1809 and 17-1926, John Crane Inc. v. Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett, et al., No. 17-1814, 7th Cir.).



Pursuit Of In Personam Claims Against Johns-Manville Insurance Broker Debated
NEW YORK - An asbestosis sufferer and the longtime insurance broker for Johns-Manville Corp. continue to battle over whether the former can hold the latter liable for his injuries, with both filing the latest briefs July 7 in New York federal bankruptcy court on the lone remaining issue - whether any denial of due process would have resulted in prejudice to the claimant (In re Johns-Manville Corporation, et al., No. 82-11656, S.D. N.Y. Bkcy.).



Bankruptcy Judge Removes Consent Finding In Coverage Dispute Ruling
CHICAGO - An insurer successfully petitioned an Illinois federal bankruptcy judge to remove a finding in his ruling denying the insurer summary judgment in a coverage dispute with asbestos claimants in the Chapter 11 case of Oakfabco Inc. that the insurer waived its right to object to the ruling, according to a June 29 amended opinion (In re: Oakfabco, Inc., No. 15-27062, N.D. Ill. Bkcy., 2017 Bankr. LEXIS 1856).



Asbestos Claimants Drop Appeal Due To Failure Of Energy Future's Plan
WILMINGTON, Del. - Four asbestos claimants battling Chapter 11 debtor Energy Future Holdings Corp. (EFH) over its handling of asbestos claims in its plan to reorganize presented the Delaware federal court on July 21 with a proposed stipulation and order dismissing the claimants' appeal of the plan confirmation, due to EFH's inability to consummate the plan (Shirley Fenicle, et al. v. Energy Future Holdings Corp., No. 17-229, D. Del.).



Court: Pfizer Didn't Put Itself Out As Manufacturer Of Quigley Asbestos Products
SEATTLE - Pfizer Inc. did not put itself out as the apparent manufacturer of Quigley Co. Inc.'s asbestos-containing products under the Restatement of Torts, a Washington appeals panel held June 26 in an opinion of first impression (Margaret Rublee, et al. v. Carrier Corp., et al., No. 75009-7-I, Wash. App., Div. 1, 2017 Wash. App. LEXIS 1488).



W.R. Grace Seeks Time To Resolve Final 2 Non-Asbestos Claims
WILMINGTON, Del. - Reorganized chemical conglomerate W.R. Grace & Co. asked a Delaware bankruptcy court July 14 for more time to resolve, hopefully consensually, the final two non-asbestos claims of the more than 10,000 such claims filed during the company's drawn-out Chapter 11 case without having to file an objection to the claims (In re: W.R. Grace & Co., et al., No. 01-01139, D. Del. Bkcy.).



ASARCO's Contribution Suit Stayed By Judge Pending Cleanup Plan's Approval
SALT LAKE CITY - A federal judge in Utah on July 11 stayed a lawsuit brought by American Smelting and Refining Co. LLC (ASARCO) seeking contribution toward $8.7 million it has spent remediating a former mining site near Park City, Utah, pending the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's approval of a cleanup plan (ASARCO LLC v. Noranda Mining Inc., No.12-cv-527 DN, D. Utah, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107957).



Florida High Court Will Review Asbestos Causation Experts, Resulting $8M Award
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Supreme Court agreed to decide the proper standard for admitting expert causation testimony in the state when on July 11 it accepted a case that originally resulted in an $8 million asbestos award against tobacco and gaskets companies (Richard DeLisle v. Crane Co., et al., No. SC16-2182, Fla. Sup.).



Judge Unseals Documents Within Crime-Fraud Exception In Asbestos-Tainted Talc Case
NEWARK, N.J. - A judge in New Jersey on July 7 unsealed a pair of special discovery master opinions involving the crime-fraud exception to attorney-client privilege in an asbestos-talc case. The documents remain provisionally sealed so that the parties can appeal the ruling (Audrey Sampson, et al. v. 3M Co., et al., No. MID-L-5384-11AS, N.J. Super., Middlesex Co.).



Florida Jury Returns $6,785,000 Verdict In Mesothelioma Case
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Florida jury on July 6 awarded a mesothelioma victim's widow $6,785,000 and found lone remaining defendant John Crane Inc. 75 percent liable for the maintenance worker's injuries (Joyce Moore, et al. v. John Crane Inc., No. 13-011729 [27], Fla. Cir., Broward Co.).



Court Affirms Asbestos Verdict For Service Station Owner, Automobile Manufacturer
LOS ANGELES - Even if replacement brake pads contained asbestos during the times in question, there is no evidence that an automaker's brake assembly would not work with asbestos-free brakes, and the evidence at trial suggests that a service station provided service and was not in the stream of commerce of automobile parts, a California appeals court held July 5 in affirming a verdict (Joseph Petitpas v. Ford Motor Co., et al., No. B245037, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., 2017 Cal. App. LEXIS 604).



Fresh New York Asbestos CMO Permits Punitive Damages, Loosens Some Evidence Rules
NEW YORK - New York asbestos plaintiffs may pursue punitive damage claims going forward under a newly instituted case management order (CMO) that also includes changes to hearsay rules designed to help offset the negative impact such a change will have on defendants, the coordinating justice said June 20 (In re: New York City Asbestos Litigation, All Asbestos Cases., No. 40000/88, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).



Federal Judge Confirms Garlock Sealing's Joint Plan Establishing Asbestos Trust
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A North Carolina federal judge on June 12 confirmed the plan of reorganization for Chapter 11 debtor Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC after an insurer's remaining objections to the plan were resolved at a one-day bankruptcy court confirmation hearing in May (In re: Garlock Sealing Technologies, LLC, et al., No. 3:17-cv-275, W.D. N.C.).



With Summary Judgment Denied, Coverage Row Bound For Trial
CHICAGO - A dispute over how much coverage from an insurer exists for asbestos claims against Chapter 11 debtor Oakfabco Inc. must be decided at trial because the insurer's policy and binder are too ambiguous to decide the issue on summary judgment, an Illinois federal bankruptcy judge held June 12 (In re: Oakfabco, Inc., No. 15-27062, N.D. Ill. Bkcy.).



Court Schedules Discovery Into Rapid-American, Insurer Policy Limits Dispute
NEW YORK - A New York federal bankruptcy judge on June 6 issued a scheduling order for fact discovery and identification of expert witnesses in a dispute between Chapter 11 debtor Rapid-American Corp. and one of its insurers over whether a policy has a $7 million or $14 million limit for asbestos liability claims (Rapid-American Corporation, et al. v. Travelers Casualty and Surety Company, et al., No. 15-01095, S.D. N.Y. Bkcy.).



John Crane Details RICO, Fraud Allegations Against Shein Firm
PHILADELPHIA - Four asbestos disease sufferers won multimillion verdicts against solvent manufacturers, then went out and made claims against asbestos trusts of bankrupt manufacturers whose products they had denied any exposure to when questioned in their court cases in a racketeering scheme devised by their attorneys, John Crane Inc. (JCI) alleges in a May 31 statement in Pennsylvania federal court (John Crane Inc. v. Shein Law Center Ltd., et al., No. 2:17-cv-02210, E.D. Pa.).



Honeywell, Ford Say Limits On Claimants' Data Make Access Useless
WILMINGTON, Del. - Although a bankruptcy court allowed Honeywell International Inc. and Ford Motor Co. access to asbestos claimants' data in nine Chapter 11 cases to investigate fraud in the claims process, limits placed on how the data can be used make the access worthless for the companies' purposes, they argue in a June 2 brief on appeal in Delaware federal court (In re: Motions Seeking Access to 2019 Statements, No. 16-1078, D. Del.).



THAN Trust Implores Court To End Insurers' Pursuit Of Audit Rights
WILMINGTON, Del. - An amended lawsuit filed by insurers seeking to audit the T H Agriculture & Nutrition LLC (THAN) asbestos trust for evidence of fraud should be dismissed because the insurers already conducted a court-ordered audit and have produced no evidence of wrongdoing for the trust to pursue, the trust, THAN and its parent argue in separate briefs supporting their motions to dismiss filed June 9 in Delaware state court (AIU Insurance Company, et al. v. Philips Electronics North America Corporation, et al., No. 9852, Del. Chanc.).



Law Firm Seeks Review Of Quantum Meruit Relief Ruling In Suit With Insolvent Insurer
ST. PAUL, Minn. - In a dispute over payment on work done for an insolvent insurer's liquidator, a law firm petitioned the Minnesota Supreme Court on June 5 to answer "when a contingency fee lawyer is terminated by the client, may the district court consider the contingency fee agreement as one of the factors in awarding quantum meruit relief to the discharged lawyer?" (Faricy Law Firm, P.A., v. API Inc., Asbestos Settlement Trust, No. A16-1539, Minn. Sup.).



Oakfabco Must Produce Asset Sale Information To Asbestos Claimants
CHICAGO - Asbestos claimants in the Chapter 11 case of defunct boiler manufacturer Oakfabco Inc. got a boost in their efforts to maximize their potential recoveries from the company June 8 when an Illinois federal bankruptcy judge granted their request to conduct discovery into the debtor's 2009 sale of its remaining operating assets (In re: Oakfabco, Inc., No. 15-27062, N.D. Ill. Bkcy.).



Kaiser Gypsum Gets 3 More Months To File Reorganization Plan
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - With negotiations ongoing among Chapter 11 debtor Kaiser Gypsum Co. and its various stakeholders, including asbestos personal injury claimants, a North Carolina federal bankruptcy judge on June 14 gave the company three more months to file a plan of reorganization (In re Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc., et al., No. 16-31602, W.D. N.C. Bkcy.).



Justice Approves $5M Settlement Of Asbestos Claims In Insurer's Liquidation
CONCORD, N.H. - A New Hampshire justice on May 22 approved a $5 million settlement between an insolvent insurer's liquidator and a manufacturer and its personal injury settlement trust with regard to asbestos bodily injury claims (In the Matter of the Liquidation of The Home Insurance Co., No. 03-E-0106, N.H. Sup., Merrimack Co.).



Amici: Causation Ruling Adds To Post-Bankruptcy Wave Spread Of Litigation Targets
LOS ANGELES - Loosening the causation standard in asbestos cases to include safety equipment makers would only draw more cases to California's already burdened judicial system and is against public policy, amici told a California appeals court May 10 (William and Becky Tyler, et al. v. American Optical Corp., et al., No. B276847, Calif. App., 2nd Dist.).



Ire Over Depositions In Asbestos Fraud Case 'Baseless,' Judge Told
NEWARK, N.J. - Having "[sown] poisoned seeds" by conducting a decades-long effort to destroy evidence of asbestos liability, a company now attempts to harvest its crop by complaining that class representatives accusing it of fraud do not know the precise impact of that scheme, plaintiffs told a New Jersey federal judge on May 30 in opposing a sanctions motion (Kimberlee Williams, et al. v. BASF Catalysts LLC, et al., No. 11-1754, D. N.J.).



'Substantial Justice' In $3.2M Verdict Against Jenkins Bros., Justice Says
JOHNSTOWN, N.Y. - Saying a $3.2 million asbestos verdict delivered "substantial justice," a New York justice on May 12 denied a valve maker's post-trial motion challenging the jury instructions and the exclusion of settled defendants' interrogatory responses and testimony from a Navy expert (Scott Shays v. A.O. Smith Water Products, et al., No. 703/2015, N.Y. Sup., Schenectady Co.).



John Crane Takes RICO Claims Against Lawyers To Pennsylvania Federal Court
PHILADELPHIA - Less than two months after having its fraud and racketeering claims against two law firms and their founders dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction, John Crane Inc. (JCI) filed the identical claims against one of the firms and its principals in Pennsylvania federal court May 15 (John Crane Inc. v. Shein Law Center Ltd., et al., No. 2:17-cv-02210, E.D. Pa.).



Rapid-American, Insurer Both Denied Judgment On Policy's Limits
NEW YORK - A New York federal bankruptcy judge on May 15 declined to award summary judgment to either Chapter 11 debtor Rapid-American Corp. or one of its insurers in a dispute over whether a policy has a $7 million or $14 million limit for asbestos liability claims, saying the policy is too ambiguous to interpret at this stage (Rapid-American Corporation, et al. v. Travelers Casualty and Surety Company, et al., No. 15-01095, S.D. N.Y. Bkcy.).



Lack Of Jurisdiction Dooms Bid To Enforce Injunction For Environmental Claims
NEWARK, N.J. - A New Jersey federal bankruptcy judge on May 1 declined to decide a request by former Chapter 11 debtor G-I Holdings Inc. to enforce its reorganization plan injunction to bar indemnification claims for cleanup of a polluted industrial site, saying G-I's appeal of a remand order in the dispute deprives her of jurisdiction (In re: G-I Holdings, Inc., et al., Nos. 01-30135 and 01-38790, D. N.J. Bkcy., 2017 Bankr. LEXIS 1194).



Battle Over Superfund Site Cleanup Not A Bankruptcy Issue, Judge Says In Remanding
NEWARK, N.J. - A dispute among several companies, including former Chapter 11 debtor G-I Holdings Inc., over who should pay for the cleanup of a 26-acre polluted industrial site in New Jersey does not belong in federal bankruptcy court, a federal judge ruled May 5 in agreeing to remand the case to state court (G-I Holdings Inc., et al. v. Ashland Inc., et al., No. 17-0077, D. N.J.).



Kaiser Gypsum's Insurance Coverage Dispute Sent Back To Oregon Court
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - An insurance coverage dispute over two polluted sites in Oregon and Washington between Chapter 11 debtor Kaiser Gypsum Co. and its insurers will not be decided by a North Carolina bankruptcy court after the court remanded the case May 16 (In re Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc., et al., No. 16-31602, W.D. N.C. Bkcy.).



Manville Trust Seeks Dismissal Of General Motors' Adversary Complaint
NEW YORK - General Motors LLC's bid for declaratory relief against the asbestos trust established in Johns-Manville Corp.'s landmark Chapter 11 case should be dismissed as premature or because the relief sought is "unambiguously enjoined" by protective injunctions issued in the bankruptcy case, the Johns-Manville trust said May 12 (In re Johns-Manville Corporation, et al., No. 82-11656 [General Motors LLC v. Manville Personal Injury Settlement Trust, et al., No. 1:17-ap-1032], S.D. N.Y. Bkcy.).



Dispute Between Pittsburgh Corning Trust, Claimants Heads To Mediation
PITTSBURGH - More than 2,000 asbestos claimants from a decades-old consolidated Texas litigation and the trustees of the $3.6 billion Pittsburgh Corning Corp. (PCC) asbestos trust will mediate their dispute over whether Pittsburgh Corning's Chapter 11 case should be reopened so a bankruptcy judge can decide if the claimants qualify for payment by the trust, according to a May 18 mediation referral order filed in Pennsylvania federal bankruptcy court (In re: Pittsburgh Corning Corporation, No. 00-22876, W.D. Pa. Bkcy.).



With $3.6 Billion Available, Pittsburgh Corning Trust Begins Processing Claims
PITTSBURGH - The Pittsburgh Corning Corporation Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust contained more than $3.6 billion at the end of 2016 and began processing claims March 21, according to the trust's annual report, filed April 27 in Pennsylvania federal bankruptcy court (In re: Pittsburgh Corning Corporation, No. 00-22876, W.D. Pa. Bkcy.).



W.R. Grace Trust Paid $193 Million To Injured Claimants Last Year
WILMINGTON, Del. - The W.R. Grace & Co. Asbestos Personal Injury Trust paid 400 prebankruptcy petition liquidated asbestos personal injury claims and 22,240 unliquidated claims in 2016, with payments for both kinds of claims totaling $193.48 million for the year, according to the trust's annual report filed April 27 in Delaware federal bankruptcy court (In re: W.R. Grace & Co., et al., No. 01-01139, D. Del. Bkcy.).



Plant Insulation Trust Paid $13.7 Million To 306 Asbestos Claimants In 2016
SAN FRANCISCO - The Plant Insulation Company Asbestos Settlement Trust, which had more than $235 million in net claimants' equity at the end of 2016, paid 306 of the 1,094 claims received last year and made settlement offers on 459 claims, according to the trust's annual report filed April 26 in California federal bankruptcy court (In re Plant Insulation Company, No. 09-31347, N.D. Calif. Bkcy.).



$826 Million Quigley Trust Approved 13,865 Claims Last Year
NEW YORK - The Quigley Asbestos Personal Injury Trust approved 13,865 asbestos personal injury claims out of the 44,995 claims filed in 2016 and paid more than $60 million to settle the claims, according to the trust's annual report filed April 26 in New York federal bankruptcy court (In re Quigley Co. Inc., No. 04-15739, S.D. N.Y. Bkcy.).



General Motors Trust Paid $17.6 Million To 1,527 Asbestos Claimants In 2016
NEW YORK - The asbestos personal injury trust established in General Motors Corp.'s Chapter 11 bankruptcy case paid about $17.6 million to 1,074 claimants last year, according to the trust's annual report filed April 28 in New York federal bankruptcy court (In re: Motors Liquidation Co., et al., No. 09-50026, S.D. N.Y. Bkcy.).



Panel: Asbestos Trust Owes Law Firm For Work On Claim To Insolvent Insurer
ST. PAUL, Minn. - A trial court erred by releasing an asbestos settlement trust of any duty to pay a law firm for work on a claim filed with an insolvent insurer despite finding that the firm performed some uncompensated work on that claim for which a promise to pay was implied, a Minnesota panel held May 8 (Faricy Law Firm, P.A., v. API Inc., Asbestos Settlement Trust, No. A16-1539, Minn. App., 2017 Minn. App. Unpub. LEXIS 421).



Asbestos Claimants Nix Plan To Have District Court Hear Oakfabco Insurance Dispute
CHICAGO - A federal judge will not decide a dispute over the amount of money available to Chapter 11 debtor Oakfabco Inc. to pay asbestos claims under two lost insurance policies after the judge on May 17 granted the Asbestos Claimants' Committee's request to withdraw its motion to move the dispute from bankruptcy court (Asbestos Claimants Committee v. Oakfabco Inc., et al., No. 17-03336, N.D. Ill.).



Louisiana Jury Returns Verdict For ExxonMobil In Asbestos Case
NEW ORLEANS - A Louisiana jury on April 11 returned a defense verdict in an asbestos case claiming that a former contractor developed mesothelioma and died after exposures at an ExxonMobil Corp. facility, sources told Mealey Publications (Thomas H. Hayden and Jaqueline S. Hayden v. 3M Co., et al., No. 15-03732, La. Dist., Orleans Parish).



Court Questions Duty Precedent On Way To Vacating $4.6 Million Asbestos Award
JACKSON, Tenn. - A divided Tennessee Court of Appeals panel vacated a $4.6 million take-home asbestos verdict May 12, finding that the jury instructions improperly allowed a jury to find negligence without first finding a defective product. All three judges questioned precedent governing how the state's courts decide whether a duty exists to prevent harm (Joyce and Ronnie Stockton v. Ford Motor Co., No. W2016-01175-COA-R3-CV, Tenn. App., 2017 Tenn. App. LEXIS 308).



Jury Returns Defense Verdict On Environmental Asbestos Exposure Claims
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - A Connecticut jury on March 17 found for a special materials company in a man's case alleging exposure to asbestos fibers that escaped from the company's facility (Audrey Gough, et al. v. Rogers Corp., et al., No. FBT-CV-15-6049135-S, Conn. Super., Fairfield at Bridgeport).



New York Jury Hands Boiler Company Verdict In Asbestos Case
NEW YORK - A New York jury on May 3 found that boiler company Burnham [ee]LLC was not liable for failing to warn about the dangers of asbestos and was not a substantial factor in a man's mesothelioma, sources told Mealey Publications. The justice presiding over the case had previously allowed experts to testify to what Burnham characterized as the opinion that "every exposure" to asbestos caused disease (Jeanne Evans, et al. v. 3M Co., et al., No. 190109/2015, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).



Pennsylvania Jury Awards $220,000 For Asbestos-Related Laryngeal Cancer
PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania jury on March 29 awarded a man suffering from asbestos-related laryngeal cancer $220,000 and found the lone remaining defendant, John Crane Inc., one of three liable parties, sources told Mealey Publications (William Murray, et al. v. Durametallic Corp., et al., No. 150701334, Pa. Comm. Pls., Philadelphia Co.).



11th Circuit Affirms Expert, Household Duty Rulings, In $3M Asbestos Verdict
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A federal judge in Alabama did not err in admitting expert testimony that all significant asbestos exposures contribute to mesothelioma nor in concluding that an employer can be liable for exposing household members to asbestos, an 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held April 26 (Melissa Ann Bobo and Sharon Jean Cox, as co-personal representatives of the estate of Barbara Bobo v. Tennessee Valley Authority, No. 12-S-1930, N.D. Ala., 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130741).