Asbestos Claims Against Bankrupt Entities Barred Under Confirmation Order

United States Bankruptcy Court, D. Maryland. March 02, 2020

The plaintiffs were various entities who filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 in 2001. Their bankruptcy confirmation order set a bar date for the filing of claims by creditors against the entities. Nearly 16 years later, asbestos claimants filed claims for exposure to asbestos in Pennsylvania.  The plaintiffs then filed suit against the asbestos claimants as an adversarial bankruptcy proceeding. Motions for summary judgment were filed by both sides.

The court first set out to …

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Opposite Outcomes in Recent Removals Based on Diversity Hone in on Status of Remaining Defendants

A string of recent decisions on remand motions illustrates that diversity challenges are alive and well in asbestos litigation. As the landscape of defendants changes as trial approaches, so do the defenses. Whether by settlement or dismissal, the remaining defendant or defendants have taken advantage of diversity issues to remove cases to more favorable federal jurisdictions with stark contrast in results. That contrast should give defendants cause for pause prior to removal.

Recently, in Wieland v. Arvinmeritor, Inc., a brake defendant removed the case …

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Use of Future Claims Representative Satisfied Due Process

United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, February 19, 2020

The Johns-Manville Corporation entered bankruptcy in the early 1980s. In 1986, the bankruptcy court established a fund pursuant to a settlement with Johns-Manville’s insurers to compensate individuals injured by the corporation’s asbestos-containing products. The court then ordered that all claims—both those against Johns-Manville based on their products and those against its insurers related to their coverage for such claims—be brought against the trust that would administrate the fund. That trust still exists and processes claims from people …

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Filing Date for Latent Asbestos Claimants Found Not to Violate Due Process in Reorganization Plan

United States Court of Appeals Third Circuit, February 18 2020

DELAWARE – The appellants are latent asbestos claimants who did not file by the bar date set by Chapter 11 bankruptcy but who were subsequently diagnosed with mesothelioma. The appellee is Energy Future Holdings Corporation (EFH), which was a holding company for several energy properties. Those subsidiaries became defunct long ago as a result of asbestos litigation. EFH also filed for bankruptcy as a result of vast sums of money owed to asbestos debtors. The …

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Enhanced Workers’ Compensation Benefits Not Owed from Defunct Employer

Supreme Court of Missouri, February 18, 2020

MISSOURI – The claimants filed a workers’ compensation claim for their late father, Vincent Hegger, who developed  mesothelioma. Hegger worked for Valley Farm from 1968 until 1984. His work included service with machinery where he encountered asbestos gaskets and asbestos insulation. Valley Farm had workers’ compensation coverage but ceased operations in 1998.

His children sought enhanced benefits under the state’s workers’ compensation laws. The administrative law judge denied that claim and the children appealed. On appeal, the court …

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Covenant Judgment Found Reasonable Despite Challenge by Insurer

WASHINGTON – United States Fidelity & Guarantee (USF&G) intervened in a recent mesothelioma matter arguing that a covenant judgment entered at the trial level was unreasonable. By way of background, the plaintiffs, Robert and Karen Ulbricht, and their children sought damages from several defendants, including PM Northwest for Robert Ulbricht’s alleged development of mesothelioma. Ulbricht alleged exposure to asbestos while working at the Texaco Oil Refinery in Anacortes, Washington from 1973-1999. PM was alleged to have been the maintenance contractor at the site. However, PM …

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Lack of Causation Leads to Grant of Summary Judgment for Friction Defendant in Lung Cancer Case

NEW YORK – The plaintiff, Glen Schrank, sued multiple defendants, including Ford Motor alleging that he developed lung cancer from his work as an automobile mechanic from approximately 1972-1991. Schrank smoked Parliament filtered cigarettes beginning in 1966 and smoked between one and one and a half packs per day. Ford moved for an order precluding the plaintiff’s expert witnesses or in the alternative a Frye Reed hearing. In support of its position, Ford offered an affidavit from Dr. Anil Vachani. Dr. Vachani’s testimony illustrated various …

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Multiple Defendants Granted Summary Judgment in Maritime Action on Lack of Causation

WASHINGTON – The plaintiffs filed suit against multiple defendants, including Foster Wheeler Energy Corporation, Warren Pumps, and Air & Liquid Systems Corporation, alleging that their decedent, Deem, developed mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos-containing products while working as a machinist at the Puget Naval Shipyard from 1974-1981. Two co-workers testified as to work performed at the shipyard. Work included repairs on lots of equipment including valves, pumps, catapults, distilling plants, turbines, compressors, and steam traps. Additional tasks included removal of old flange gaskets, …

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Partial Settlement Did Not Moot Claim for Vexatious Refusal to Pay

MISSOURI – O’Reilly Auto Enterprises, LLC succeeded to the interests of Grand Auto, Inc., and O’Reilly was named as a defendant in several asbestos-related personal injury actions as a result. Industrial Indemnity had issued two insurance policies covering such claims to Grand Auto, and U.S. Fire had succeeded to Industrial Indemnity’s interests. As a result prior to 2012, U.S. Fire provided defense and indemnity to O’Reilly in the personal injury actions pursuant to the Industrial Indemnity policies.

In 2012, the insurer incorrectly determined that the …

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Lack of Admissible Evidence Against General Electric Leads to Grant of Summary Judgment in Maritime Meso Case

CONNECTICUT – The Carlson’s brought suit against several defendants including General Electric (GE) alleging that Kurt Carlson developed mesothelioma as a result of exposure to the defendants’ asbestos-containing products while working as a radiological control technician for General Dynamics/Electric Boat Corp. from 1973-1974. The plaintiffs provided answers to interrogatories to GE. The answers did not list GE as the plaintiff’s employer or as a product to which he was exposed. The plaintiff was also deposed and did not name GE as a product to which …

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