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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®



 



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).



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.).