WILMINGTON, Del. — A Delaware federal judge on Jan. 30 denied a request by asbestos claimants to have the debtors in the Chapter 11 case of Energy Future Holdings Corp. pay their attorney fees based on the claimants’ “substantial contribution” to the case, finding that the debtors saw no significant benefits from the claimants’ work (Sherry Fenicle, et al. v. EFH Plan Administrator Board, et al., Nos. 18-877 and 18-878, D. Del., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14390).
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A federal jury hit asbestos-brake maker Honeywell International Inc. with $10 million in punitive damages on Jan. 29 on top of $8,530,979 it awarded in compensatory damages. The jury found for defendant Ford Motor Co. (Michael Lyn Thomas, et al. v. Ford Motor Co., et al., No. 17-522, E.D. Ark.).
WILMINGTON, Del. — Asbestos claimants’ challenge to the constitutionality of discharging claims of future but yet unknown disease sufferers are statutorily moot because it affects the validity of former Chapter 11 debtor Energy Future Holdings Corp.’s entire reorganization plan, a Delaware federal judge ruled Jan. 24 in dismissing the claimants’ appeal of the plan’s approval (Sherry Fenicle, et al. v. Energy Future Holdings Corp., et al., No. 18-381, D. Del., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11194).
NEWARK, N.J. — A New Jersey jury on Jan. 24 decided against imposing punitive damages on Union Carbide Corp. just days after awarding a widow $2,380,000 on her claim that her husband contracted and died of mesothelioma after exposure to Calidria asbestos, sources told Mealey Publications (Thomasina Fowler v. Union Carbide Corp., et al., No. L-4820-11, N.J. Super., Middlesex Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
ANDERSON, S.C. — A jury may conclude that all of a company’s products contained asbestos, a South Carolina judge said Jan. 24 as part of her instructions at trial. The ruling was one of several imposing sanctions on multiple defendants for alleged discovery violations in an asbestos case (Rita Joyce Glenn, et al. v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. 2015CP041607, S.C. Comm. Pls,, 10th Jud. Cir., Anderson Co.).
WILMINGTON, Del. — With the preapproval of 100 percent of asbestos claimants, a nonoperating subsidiary of commercial vehicle and industrial products maker Meritor Inc. filed a prepackaged Chapter 11 plan of reorganization on Jan. 22 in Delaware federal bankruptcy court, looking to resolve its asbestos liabilities through a Section 524(g) trust (In re: Maremont Corporation, et al., No. 19-10118, D. Del. Bkcy.).
CHICAGO — With the final settlement with insurers in place in the Chapter 11 case of boiler company Oakfabco Inc., an Illinois federal bankruptcy judge on Jan. 16 approved the disclosure statement for the debtor’s plan of liquidation and set a March date for the plan confirmation hearing (In re: Oakfabco, Inc., No. 15-27062, N.D. Ill. Bkcy.).
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With two key issues yet to be decided in the Chapter 11 case of Bestwall LLC, including whether to dismiss the case, a North Carolina federal bankruptcy judge on Jan. 7 gave the company more time to file a plan of reorganization (In re Bestwall LLC, No. 17-31795, W.D. N.C. Bkcy.).
WILMINGTON, Del. — Because insurers’ asbestos policies with former Chapter 11 debtor W.R. Grace & Co. are “legally relevant” to state court tort claims filed against the insurers under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, the insurers are protected from the claims by a bankruptcy injunction, they assert in a Dec. 21 brief on remand in Delaware federal bankruptcy court (Continental Casualty Co., et al. v. Jeremy B. Carr, et al., No. 15-50766, D. Del. Bkcy.).
NEW YORK — The successor to the PVC pipe business of former Chapter 11 debtor Johns-Manville Corp. asked a New York federal bankruptcy judge Jan. 16 to issue a “reiterative injunction” barring state court asbestos injury claims against the successor based on the bankruptcy protections implemented when it bought the business (In re Johns-Manville Corporation, et al., No. 82-11656, S.D. N.Y. Bkcy.).
PHILADELPHIA — The question of whether the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has jurisdiction to hear an appeal of a bankruptcy court’s denial of certification for a class of property owners seeking damages for asbestos from former Chapter 11 debtor W.R. Grace & Co. will be decided along with the merits of the appeal, a Third Circuit panel ruled Jan. 10 (In re Grace & Co., et al., No. 18-1960, 3rd Cir.).
CHICAGO — A Chicago jury returned a defense verdict in a retrial of a chrysotile asbestos case involving drywall products on Dec. 14, sources told Mealey Publications (Jo Ann Startley, et al. v. Welco Manufacturing Co., No. 20140L-002716, Ill. Cir., Cook Co.).
MADISON, Wis. — An asbestos defendant’s success at summary judgment moots its appeals of previous rulings that found that environmental exposure claims fell outside Wisconsin’s statutory immunity for employers, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Jan. 8 (Pamela Kilty, et al. v. Weyerhaeuser Co., et al., No. 18-1974, Scott Spatz, et al. v. Weyerhaeuser Co., et al., No. 18-1975, 7th Cir.).
TACOMA, Wash. — A Washington federal judge in a Jan. 4 minute order agreed with former asbestos insurers of Chapter 11 debtor Fraser’s Boiler Service Inc. that a bankruptcy court’s orders approving settling insurers’ buyback of policies in settlements with the debtor should be stayed until Fraser’s confirmation hearing (In re: Fraser’s Boiler Service, Inc., Nos. 3:18-cv-5637 and 3:18-cv-05638, W.D. Wash.).
TRENTON, N.J. — An appeal over whether a bankruptcy judge erred in appointing a future claimants’ representative (FCR) for asbestos claimants in Duro Dyne National Corp.’s Chapter 11 case was put on hold Dec. 31 by a New Jersey federal judge due to the partial shutdown of the federal government (Andrew R. Vara v. Duro Dyne National Corp., et al., No. 3:18-cv-15563, D. N.J.).
ROME, Ga. — With the apparent backing of a Georgia federal bankruptcy judge, the U.S. trustee in the new Chapter 11 case of The Fairbanks Co. on Dec. 31 proposed “shifting the paradigm away from decades of established practice” and opening the process for selecting a future claimants’ representative (FCR) to a field of candidates, rather than just the one candidate proposed by the debtor (In re The Fairbanks Company, No. 18-41768, N.D. Ga. Bkcy.).
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Maryland’s top court on Dec. 13 agreed to decide whether an insulator’s substantial presence at a facility was enough evidence on which a jury could infer exposure to the company’s asbestos-containing products and whether juries should hear about other companies dismissed from the case (Wallace & Gale Asbestos Settlement Trust v. William Edward Busch Jr., No. 59, Sept. Term 2018, Md. App.).
ST. LOUIS — A jury’s $4.69 billion asbestos-talc ovarian cancer verdict stands after a Missouri judge turned away challenges to jurisdiction, timeliness, causation and compensatory and punitive damage awards on Dec. 19 (Gail Ingham, et al. v. Johnson & Johnson, et al., No. 1522-CC-10417, Mo. Cir., St. Louis Co.).
CHICAGO — An Illinois federal bankruptcy judge on Dec. 18 approved a $12.4 million settlement between Chapter 11 debtor Oakfabco Inc. and the last remaining insurers challenging the company’s reorganization efforts that will provide additional funding for an asbestos trust (In re: Oakfabco, Inc., No. 15-27062, N.D. Ill. Bkcy.).
PHILADELPHIA — The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 7 allowed the leading advocacy group for the plaintiffs’ bar to argue in support of nine asbestos bankruptcy trusts in their fight to stave off an appeal filed by Ford Motor Co. and Honeywell International Inc., which demand “full access” to trust claimants’ data in search of fraud (In re: AC&S, Inc., et al., No. 18-1951, 3rd Cir.).