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.).
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).
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.).
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.).
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).
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).
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.).
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.).
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.).
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.).
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.).
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.).
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.).
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).
SAN FRANCISCO— A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Aug. 10 held that two medical assistants who filed a qui tam lawsuit under the False Claims Act (FCA) against a podiatrist they worked for could not intervene in a criminal forfeiture action brought by the federal government seeking $1.2 million for false billing to Medicare because the employees lacked standing (United States v. Neil A. Van Dyck, et al., No. 16-10160, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14780).
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).
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.).
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.).
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.).
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.).