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Federal Judge Vacates Even Split Of $20M Fee Award For Insurance Settlement
NEW YORK - While a $20 million attorney fee agreement for a settlement between an insurer and asbestos claimants does not say the money is to be divided unevenly among the four law firms that negotiated the settlement, it also does not say the fees are to be divided equally, a New York federal judge found Sept. 29 in reversing a bankruptcy court ruling awarding $5 million to each firm (Bevan & Associates, LPA, Inc., et al. v. Eric Bogdan, et al., No. 16-cv-7154, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 164219).



Judge Tosses Utah's Suit Seeking To Force Trusts To Comply With Investigation
SALT LAKE CITY - Utah's brief attempt at forcing four asbestos trusts to participate in the state's fraud investigation of the trusts ended Oct. 6 when a state judge dismissed the state's lawsuit on jurisdiction grounds, and on the merits, saying Utah exceeded its authority and issued investigative demands that are "overbroad" and "intrusive" (State of Utah v. Armstrong World Industries Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust, et al., No. 170901496, Utah 3rd Dist., Salt Lake Co.).



Pittsburgh Corning Trust To Pay Up To $178.5 Million In Deal With Claimants
PITTSBURGH - More than 2,000 asbestos claimants from a decades-old consolidated Texas litigation will share up to $178.5 million from the asbestos trust established in the Pittsburgh Corning Corp. (PCC) bankruptcy case, according to a notice and settlement filed Oct. 18 in Pennsylvania federal bankruptcy court (In re: Pittsburgh Corning Corporation, No. 00-22876, W.D. Pa. Bkcy.).



N.Y. Court Told To Nix Asbestos Punitive Damages, Safeguard Trust Transparency
NEW YORK - An appeals court should vacate a provision of the new case management order allowing for punitive damages in asbestos cases and vacate or amend a provision governing how asbestos bankruptcy trust claims are handled, an amicus curiae group told the court on Oct. 10 (In re: New York City Asbestos Litigation, All Asbestos Cases., No. 40000/1988 782000/2017, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 1st Dept.).



Rapid-American Seeks Protective Order For Insurers' Subpoenas
NEW YORK - A declaratory insurance coverage action filed by Chapter 11 debtor Rapid-American Corp. is not the proper vehicle for insurers to use in search of evidence of fraud in the asbestos trust system, the debtor says in an Oct. 20 motion and memorandum seeking protection from the insurers' subpoenas in New York federal bankruptcy court (Rapid-American Corporation, et al. v. Travelers Casualty and Surety Company, et al., No. 15-01095, S.D. N.Y. Bkcy.).



Arbitration Not Available For Coverage Dispute Based On Policy, Judge Rules
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Former Chapter 11 debtor Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC does not have to arbitrate a dispute with an insurer over a policy's coverage for asbestos claims because an arbitration provision in the policy is deleted by another provision stating that the policy's terms must match those of an umbrella policy that contains no arbitration provision, a North Carolina federal bankruptcy judge held Oct. 12 (Safety National Casualty Corp. v. Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC, et al., No. 3:17-cv-00458, W.D. N.C.).



Oakfabco Rejects $9.7 Million Settlement With Asbestos Insurers
CHICAGO - An Illinois federal bankruptcy judge on Oct. 2 authorized Chapter 11 debtor Oakfabco Inc. to reject a $9,783,000 settlement with asbestos insurers after the company said it is in the best interests of its bankruptcy estate to focus on confirming a plan of liquidation and have its "right and remedies" under the policies at issue determined afterward (In re: Oakfabco, Inc., No. 15-27062, N.D. Ill. Bkcy.).



Interest Rate Ruling Boosts IRS Refund To W.R. Grace Debtors By $1.6 Million
WILMINGTON, Del. - Reorganized chemical conglomerate W.R. Grace & Co. will receive an additional $1.6 million tax refund from the U.S. government after a Delaware federal bankruptcy judge found Oct. 23 that the Internal Revenue Service used the wrong percentage rate when figuring the refund (In re: W.R. Grace & Co., et al., No. 01-01139, D. Del. Bkcy, 2017 Bankr. LEXIS 3679).



Honeywell, Ford Dispute Charges For Redaction Of Asbestos Claimants' Data
WILMINGTON, Del. - The cost of redacting personal information in asbestos claimants' data from nine bankruptcy trusts should not be borne by Honeywell International Inc. or Ford Motor Co., which are seeking the data to mine for evidence of fraud, based on the plain language of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, the companies argue in an Oct. 2 brief on appeal in Delaware federal court (In re: Motions Seeking Access to 2019 Statements, No. 16-1078, D. Del.).



John Crane, Oregon Plaintiffs Square Off On $3M Punitive Damages Award
PORTLAND, Ore. - A jury properly awarded $3 in punitive damages against a company that sold asbestos-containing products without providing a warning, even while it was protecting its employees from exposure, plaintiffs told an Oregon court Sept. 29. But in an Oct. 3 reply, the company argues that the plaintiffs' claim was "flawed from inception" and that their argument in support ignores significant facts (Robert G. Sprague Jr., et al. v. A.W. Chesterton Co., et al., No. 15CV14771, Oregon Cir., Multnomah Co.).



Premises Owner Says $12.9M Asbestos Verdict Unfounded, Inconsistent
OAKLAND, Calif. - A jury's finding that a premises owner, but not the manufacturers of the products in question, is liable for a man's asbestos exposure is inconsistent and ignores the paucity of evidence of exposure, a food company told a California judge on Oct. 2 (Lanette Louise Lopez, et al. v. The Hillshire Brands Co., RG14721622, Calif. Super., Alameda Co.).



Jury Awards $6.8 Million In 2nd Massachusetts Asbestos Trial
WOBURN, Mass. - For the second time in nine days, a Massachusetts jury on Sept. 29 handed down a multimillion asbestos verdict, this time handing $6.8 million to a widow who claims that her deceased husband suffered exposure while serving as a part-time insulator while in school (Amy Ross, et al. v. New England Insulation Co., et al., No. 13-5580, Mass. Super., Middlesex Co.).



3rd Circuit: Maritime Negligence Claims Survive Asbestos Bare-Metal Defense
PHILADELPHIA - The bare-metal defense does not bar asbestos negligence actions under maritime law's "bedrock principle" of protecting sailors, a Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held Oct. 3 (In re: Asbestos Products Liability Litigation [No. VI], Roberta G. DeVries, et al. v. Buffalo Pumps Inc., et al., No. 16-2602, Shirley McAfee, et al. v. Ingersoll-Rand & Co., No. 16-2669, 3rd Cir.).



Insurer Cannot Litigate Coverage Dispute In State Court, Bankruptcy Judge Says
OAKLAND, Calif. - A California federal bankruptcy judge on Aug. 24 denied an insurer's request to sue a company's asbestos trust in state court over the amount of coverage owed for asbestos personal injury claims, issuing a strong rebuke to the insurer's attorneys, who claimed that the trustee knew the claims he submitted to the insurer did not trigger the polices at issue (In re CFB Liquidating Corporation, f/k/a Chicago Fire Brick Co., et al., No. 01-45483, N.D. Calif. Bkcy., 2017 Bankr. LEXIS 2411).



Arbitration Not Available For Coverage Dispute Based On Policy, Garlock Says
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Former Chapter 11 debtor Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC does not have to arbitrate an insurance coverage dispute with an insurer based on the plain language of the 1983 policy at issue, Garlock and affiliates argue in a Sept. 22 response to the insurer's motion to force arbitration in North Carolina federal court (Safety National Casualty Corp. v. Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC, et al., No. 3:17-cv-00458, W.D. N.C.).



Kaiser Gypsum's Stay Lifted To Allow Appeals In Coverage Dispute
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The primary asbestos insurer for Chapter 11 debtor Kaiser Gypsum Co. can pursue appeals of rulings in all three phases of coverage litigation in California state court, a North Carolina federal bankruptcy judge ruled in a Sept. 20 minute order lifting the automatic stay in the bankruptcy case to allow the appeals to proceed (In re Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc., et al., No. 16-31602, W.D. N.C. Bkcy.).



Split 9th Circuit Sends Row Over Lawyer's Trust Claims Ban Back To Trial Court
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal court must decide on remand whether federal or state law controls - and whether a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decision impacts - two asbestos trusts' attempt to enforce a settlement under which an attorney agreed to stop filing claims with the trusts due to his pattern of presenting unreliable evidence, a divided Ninth Circuit panel held Aug. 14 (Michael J. Mandelbrot, et al. v. J.T. Thorpe Settlement Trust and Thorpe Insulation Company Asbestos Settlement Trust, No. 15-56430, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 17924).



3rd Circuit Affirms Asbestos Attorney's Overbilling Restitution Sentence
PHILADELPHIA - A lawyer who pleaded guilty to inserting his firm's clients as defendants and then billing them as if he represented them in the cases cannot contest a portion of his restitution sentence he claims was legitimately spent, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Aug. 29 (United States v. Arobert C. Tonagbanua, No. 17-1815, 3rd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 16506).



Finding That Bankruptcy Asset Sale Bars Take-Home Asbestos Case Stands
HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Sept. 8 declined to review an appellate court's rejection of a widower's attempt to hold a company liable for his wife's death from mesothelioma and finding that the company's "free and clear" purchase of assets in a bankruptcy court auction barred his take-home asbestos exposure claims (Jacqueline S. Wagner, et al. v. Standard Steel LLC, et al., No. 80 EAL 2017, Pa. Sup.).



Son's Constitutional Due Process Claims Against Trust Shot Down By Judge
WILMINGTON, Del. - A son cannot pursue claims that an asbestos personal injury trust violated his deceased father's constitutional rights because the trust is a private entity and is not an arm of the government, a Delaware federal judge held Sept. 22 (Matthew D. Pinnavaia v. The Celotex Asbestos Settlement Trust, No. 16-742, D. Del., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155340).



Court Affirms Exclusion Of Asbestos Product ID Testimony As Sanction
CLEVELAND - A trial judge properly excluded deposition testimony as a sanction for failing to update interrogatories to indicate potential drywall compound exposures the witnesses testified to in asbestos bankruptcy claim forms, an Ohio appeals court held Sept. 7 (Paul Heaton, et al. v. Ford Motor Co., et al., No. 104636, Ohio App., 8th Dist., 2017 Ohio App. LEXIS 3800).



Railroad Asks Mississippi High Court To Allow Setoff Of FELA Asbestos Verdict
JACKSON, Miss. - The Mississippi Supreme Court should follow federal common law and allow a defendant to offset a Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA) asbestos-related lung cancer award with recoveries the plaintiff received from asbestos bankruptcy trusts, a railroad argues in a Sept. 5 supplemental brief (Illinois Central Railroad Co. v. Bennie Oakes, et al., No. 2015-TS-00644, Miss. Sup.).



John Crane's RICO Suit Against Shein Firm Stayed Pending 7th Circuit Decision
PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania federal judge on Sept. 7 stayed a case filed by John Crane Inc. (JCI) alleging fraud and racketeering claims against an asbestos plaintiffs' law firm pending a decision by the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in appeals filed by JCI and the law firm to the dismissal of identical claims by an Illinois federal court for lack of jurisdiction (John Crane Inc. v. Shein Law Center Ltd., et al., No. 2:17-cv-02210, E.D. Pa.).



Law Firm's 4th Circuit Appeal Dismissed As Per Garlock's Reorganization Plan
RICHMOND, Va. - The Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 7 dismissed an appeal filed by attorneys accused of fraud and racketeering by Chapter 11 debtor Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC after the parties agreed to drop the appeal as part of a global settlement ending Garlock's bankruptcy case (Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC, et al. v. Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett, APLC, et al., No. 15-2178, 4th Cir.).



Kaiser Gypsum Gets 3 More Months To File Reorganization Plan
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A North Carolina federal bankruptcy judge on Sept. 22 gave Chapter 11 debtor Kaiser Gypsum Co. three more months to file a plan of reorganization, despite unsecured creditors' concerns that the reorganization process is taking too long (In re Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc., et al., No. 16-31602, W.D. N.C. Bkcy.).



Claims Against Garlock Face Asbestos Trust Procedures After Reclassification
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A North Carolina federal bankruptcy judge agreed Sept. 25 to reclassify 72 claims against the bankruptcy estate of former Chapter 11 debtor Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC from general unsecured claims to asbestos claims (In re: Garlock Sealing Technologies, LLC, et al., No. 10-31607, W.D. N.C. Bkcy.).



Massachusetts Jury Awards $7.55M In Asbestos-Insulation Case
WOBURN, Mass. - A Massachusetts jury on Sept. 20 found a company liable under negligence and breach of warranty claims for its installation of asbestos-containing insulation and awarded a couple $7.55 million for a man's resulting mesothelioma (Gerald and Marjorie Sylvestre v. New England Insulation Co., et al., No.15-7031, Mass. Super., Middlesex Co.).



6th Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Ship Owners In Asbestos Cases
DETROIT - Dismissal for ship owners for lack of jurisdiction in thousands of Merchant Marine asbestos cases was proper, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Sept. 13 (Henry Kalama, et al. v. Matson Navigation Co. Inc., et al., No. 16-3408, 6th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 17931).



John Crane Tells Court Errors In Asbestos Case Led To $3M Punitive Award
PORTLAND, Ore. - Evidentiary and other errors require a new trial in an asbestos case or, at the very least, require reversing a $3 million punitive damages award, John Crane Inc. told an Oregon court on Aug. 28 (Robert G. Sprague Jr., et al. v. A.W. Chesterton Co., et al., No. 15CV14771, Oregon Cir., Multnomah Co.).



Jurisdiction Plainly Lacking For Crane's RICO Claims, Law Firm Tells 7th Circuit
CHICAGO - A federal court in Illinois correctly dismissed fraud and racketeering claims leveled by frequent asbestos defendant John Crane Inc. (JCI) against two law firms and their principals for lack of jurisdiction because the asbestos cases giving rise to the claims did not occur in Illinois, one of the firms argues in an Aug. 16 brief to the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (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.).



Asbestos Trusts Seek To Protect Claimants' Data From Companies' Fraud Probe
WILMINGTON, Del. - A bankruptcy court properly placed limits on Honeywell International Inc. and Ford Motor Co.'s access to asbestos claimants' data from nine asbestos bankruptcy trusts, but it should have gone further and denied access altogether based on the "improper nature" of the companies' purpose for seeking access, the trusts argue in an Aug. 1 brief on appeal in Delaware federal court (In re: Motions Seeking Access to 2019 Statements, No. 16-1078, D. Del.).



Garlock Drops All Claims Against Law Firms Pursuant To Reorganization Plan
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Chapter 11 debtor Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC on July 28 dismissed all five lawsuits it had filed in North Carolina federal court accusing asbestos plaintiffs' attorneys of fraud and racketeering, as was agreed to in the company's confirmed reorganization plan (Garlock Sealing Technologies, LLC, et al. v. Williams Kherkher Hart Boundas, LLP, et al., No. 3:12-ap-03137; Garlock Sealing Technologies, LLC, et al. v. Waters & Kraus, LLP, et al., No. 3:14-cv-130; Garlock Sealing Technologies, LLC, et al. v. Belluck & Fox, LLP, et al., No. 3:14-cv-118; Garlock Sealing Technologies, LLC, et al. v. Shein Law Center, Ltd., et al., No. 3:14-cv-137; Garlock Sealing Technologies, LLC, et al. v. Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett, a Professional Corporation, et al., No. 3:14-cv-116, W.D. N.C.).



Insurer Seeks To Force Arbitration Of Coverage Dispute With Garlock
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - An insurer of an affiliate of former Chapter 11 debtor Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC sued Garlock, its parent and another former debtor affiliate in North Carolina federal court on Aug. 2, seeking to force the Garlock parties to arbitrate a dispute over whether the insurer owes any money to the parties under an excess policy issued in 1983 (Safety National Casualty Corp. v. Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC, et al., No. 3:17-cv-00458, W.D. N.C.).



Rapid-American Protests Insurers' Subpoenas To Claims-Processing Facilities
NEW YORK - Chapter 11 debtor Rapid-American Corp. and the asbestos claimants in its case asked a New York federal bankruptcy judge on Aug. 15 to stop the debtor's insurers from enforcing subpoenas they issued to six asbestos claims-processing facilities, saying the subpoenas are "facially overbroad and seek material that is wholly irrelevant" to the issues in an insurance coverage adversary action (Rapid-American Corporation, et al. v. Travelers Casualty and Surety Company, et al., No. 15-01095, S.D. N.Y. Bkcy.).



Oakfabco Insurer To Pay $4.5 Million To Trust After Battle With Asbestos Claimants
CHICAGO - An Illinois federal bankruptcy judge on Aug. 4 approved a $4.5 million asbestos insurance coverage dispute settlement between Chapter 11 debtor Oakfabco Inc. and one of its insurers over objections by asbestos claimants' representatives, after the insurer added $1 million to the deal (In re: Oakfabco, Inc., No. 15-27062, N.D. Ill. Bkcy., 2017 Bankr. LEXIS 2201).



Judge Dismisses Asbestos Claimants' Appeal Of Energy Future's Plan
WILMINGTON, Del. - A Delaware federal judge on July 25 dismissed an appeal by four asbestos claimants battling Chapter 11 debtor Energy Future Holdings Corp. (EFH) over its handling of asbestos claims in its reorganization plan at the request of the claimants, who stipulated to dismissal of their appeal based on EFH's inability to consummate the plan (Shirley Fenicle, et al. v. Energy Future Holdings Corp., No. 17-229, D. Del.).



W.R. Grace Gets Extra Time To Resolve Final 2 Non-Asbestos Claims
WILMINGTON, Del. - A Delaware federal bankruptcy judge on Aug. 2 gave reorganized chemical conglomerate W.R. Grace & Co. additional time to resolve the final two non-asbestos claims of the more than 10,000 such claims filed during the company's drawn-out Chapter 11 case (In re: W.R. Grace & Co., et al., No. 01-01139, D. Del. Bkcy.).



9th Circuit Lifts Stay In Pfizer Asbestos Liability Case Involving Quigley
SEATTLE - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 14 lifted a stay of an asbestos case asking whether Pfizer Inc. is liable for a subsidiary's products under the Restatement (Second) of Torts, but said the plaintiff may seek to reimpose the stay if the Washington Supreme Court accepts review of a similar case (Sharleen Sprague, et al. v. Pfizer Inc., No. 15-35051, 9th Cir.).



2nd Circuit Vacates Sheldon Silver's Conviction In Mesothelioma Referral Case
NEW YORK - A judge improperly instructed the jury that convicted former Speaker of the New York Assembly Sheldon Silver on the scope of conduct falling within honest services fraud and extortion charges under recent U.S. Supreme Court precedent, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held July 13 in vacating his conviction involving mesothelioma referrals he sent to a law firm (United States of America v. Sheldon Silver, No. 16-1615, 2nd Cir.).



California Jury Awards Couple $5,321,050 For Man's Mesothelioma
OAKLAND, Calif. - A California jury on July 14 awarded $5,321,050 to a man who allegedly contracted mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos during underground work with cement pipe, sources told Mealey Publications (Frank Hart, et al. v. Calaveras Asbestos Ltd., et al., No. RG16838191, Calif. Super., Alameda Co.).



South Carolina Jury Awards $300,000 To Worker, Wife In Power Plant Asbestos Trial
SPARTANBURG, S.C. - A South Carolina state court jury on Aug. 3 awarded $300,000 to a former power plant inspector and his wife after finding that two defendants negligently exposed the worker to asbestos that caused his mesothelioma (Beverly Dale Jolly, et al. v. General Electric Company, et al., No. 2016-CP-43-01592, S.C. Comm. Pls., Spartanburg Co.).



Federal Jury Hearing Asbestos Case Returns Verdict For John Crane Inc.
MADISON, Wis. - A federal jury in Wisconsin returned a defense verdict for John Crane Inc. on July 19, finding that the company did not act negligently or defectively design or fail to warn about the alleged dangers posed by its asbestos-containing gaskets and packing (Patricia L. Carroll, et al. v. John Crane Inc., No. 15-373, W.D. Wis.).



9th Circuit Overturns Ruling Finding ASARCO's Cleanup Contribution Suit Untimely
SEATTLE - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Aug. 10 reversed a federal judge in Montana's ruling that a contribution lawsuit brought under Section 113(f) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act was barred by the statute of limitations, holding that American Smelting and Refining Co. LLC's (ASARCO's) claim did not arise until the entry of a 2009 consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (ASARCO v. Atlantic Richfield Company, No. 14-35723, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 14781).