Sealing Technology Manufacturer John Crane Inc. (JCI) has filed two separate lawsuits against asbestos plaintiffs firms Shein Law Center, Ltd. and Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett, PC, alleging that they violated federal mail and wire fraud statutes, federal obstruction of justice and witness tampering statutes, and the federal RICO statute.
JCI claims the defendants “systematically and falsely denied their clients were exposed to numerous other asbestos-containing products in litigation against JCI, and once the litigation was complete, filed claims with asbestos bankruptcy trusts set up by bankrupt companies.” JCI further alleges that the defendants misrepresented their clients’ exposures in sworn testimony and discovery responses, which included withholding evidence of exposure to asbestos products that were allegedly more dangerous than those manufactured by JCI.
JCI maintains that the defendants used these misrepresentations to gain an advantage in settlement offers, while in some instances taking the opportunity to simultaneously recover against bankrupt entities. JCI further asserts that the defendants “counseled their clients to testify falsely” in an effort to obtain inflated verdicts.
According to JCI, the defendants had their clients sign affidavits affirming exposure to asbestos from bankrupt companies “well in advance of filing the trust claims.” In one example cited by JCI, a jury returned a verdict against JCI and — merely 11 days later — the Shein firm filed 8 trust claims. Some of the claims were supported by exposure affidavits executed prior to the verdict. Shein allegedly fabricated exposure history by concealing exposure to high friable insulation companies with “more potent” asbestos. As a result of the alleged scheme, JCI was unable to argue alternate exposures at the various trials. Ultimately, the defendants’ clients recovered jury verdicts against JCI in several cases in which they allegedly obstructed discovery.
JCI first learned of the alleged scheme based on discovery in the matter of In re Garlock Sealing Technologies, LLC, et al., Case No. 10-31607. In that case, Garlock alleged that both the Shein and Greenstone firms intentionally delayed filing bankruptcy claims and instead pursued claims against Garlock without producing information related to alternate exposures. JCI attempted to intervene in that matter but ended up bringing the instant two cases when the Garlock matter was stayed.
JCI seeks, inter alia, compensatory damages, treble damages as to the RICO claims and punitive damages as to the fraud and conspiracy claims.