BOSTON — A Massachusetts jury hearing a rare trial involving both asbestos and tobacco defendants on Oct. 12 faulted one of the three defendants and hit that tobacco company with $13.1 million in compensatory damages and $30 million in punitive damages for a man’s lung cancer (Louis Summerlin, et al. v. Philip Morris, USA, et al., No. 1581CV05255, Mass. Super., Suffolk Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
TRENTON, N.J. — A New Jersey jury returned a defense verdict Oct. 11 for Johnson & Johnson in the latest asbestos-talc case after nearly a month of trial (Rosalind & Frederick Henry v. Brenntag North America, et al., No. L-1748-17, N.J. Super., Middlesex Co.) VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
TRENTON, N.J. — The disclosure statement for recent Chapter 11 debtor Duro Dyne National Corp.’s prenegotiated plan of reorganization cannot be approved because it fails to mention that the plan does nothing to guard against fraud, the U.S. trustee argues in an Oct. 4 objection filed in New Jersey federal bankruptcy court (In re: Duro Dyne National Corp., et al., No. 18-27963, D. N.J. Bkcy.).
RICHMOND, Va. — An employer who permitted asbestos to be carried home on employees’ clothing placed household members within its “zone of danger” and can be liable for failing to prevent the exposure and resulting injury, the Virginia Supreme Court said Oct. 11 in a 4-3 response to a certified question from a federal court (Wesley Quisenberry, et al. v. Huntington Ingalls Inc., No. 171494, Va. Sup.).
DALLAS — Health insurers and an asbestos litigation firm on Oct. 5 settled a Texas federal court case alleging that the firm withheld bankruptcy trust recoveries to which the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and Medicare insurance plans were contractually entitled for costs associated with treating the firm’s plaintiffs (Humana Inc., et al. v. Shrader & Associates LLP, No. 16-354, S.D. Texas).
NEW YORK — A New York justice reduced to $29 million what was originally a $60 million asbestos award, saying on Sept. 21 that while the new amount remains high, it is supported by the detailed account of the decedent’s life and suffering (In re: New York City Asbestos Litigation, Mary Murphy-Clagett v. A.O. Smith Water Products, et al., No. 190311/15, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
TRENTON, N.J. — A longtime representative for future asbestos claimants in corporate bankruptcies may not be the best candidate for future claimants’ representative (FCR) in the new Chapter 11 case of Duro Dyne National Corp. because of possible “disqualifying conflicts of interest,” the U.S. trustee says in a Sept. 26 objection to the proposed appointment (In re: Duro Dyne National Corp., et al., No. 18-27963, D. N.J. Bkcy.).
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — An asbestos insurer on Sept. 17 asked the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to decide if a North Carolina federal court correctly ruled that the insurer’s obligations to the Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC bankruptcy estate under a $5 million policy must be determined through litigation, not arbitration (Safety National Casualty Corp. v. Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC, et al., No. 3:17-cv-00458, W.D. N.C.).
LOS ANGELES — A Los Angeles judge on Aug. 16 entered a corrected judgment on a jury’s $11,406,500 asbestos verdict against a water company after lopping off the $5 million punitive damage award but otherwise leaving the verdict intact (Alfred Mata v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., No. BC655564, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.).
BUFFALO, N.Y. — A New York jury on Sept. 14 awarded $7,024,000 in a man’s mesothelioma case alleging exposure to asbestos in valves, sources told Mealey Publications (James Stock Jr. v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. 807846/2017, N.Y. Sup., Erie Co.).
LOS ANGELES — A California judge presiding over the latest trial featuring claims of asbestos-tainted Johnson & Johnson baby powder declared a mistrial on Sept. 24 after the jury informed her that it was deadlocked and could not reach a verdict, sources told Mealey Publications (Carolyn Weirick v. Brenntag North America, et al., No. BC656425, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.) VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A North Carolina federal bankruptcy judge on Sept. 14 postponed a hearing on asbestos claimants’ request to dismiss the Chapter 11 case of Georgia-Pacific affiliate Bestwall LLC to give her the “significant amount of time” needed to hear the dispute (In re Bestwall LLC, No. 17-31795, W.D. N.C. Bkcy.).
PHILADELPHIA — A federal bankruptcy court did not abuse its discretion in placing limits on how Ford Motor Co. and Honeywell International Inc. can use asbestos claimants’ information from nine bankruptcy trusts, the committees that oversee the trusts tell the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in a Sept. 21 appellee brief (In re: AC&S, Inc., et al., No. 18-1951, 3rd Cir.).
PHILADELPHIA — A Pennsylvania federal judge on Sept. 10 dismissed John Crane Inc.’s fraud allegations against an asbestos plaintiffs’ law firm after the parties said they reached an undisclosed settlement in principle (John Crane Inc. v. Shein Law Center Ltd., et al., No. 2:17-cv-02210, E.D. Pa.).
OAKLAND, Calif. — A California federal bankruptcy judge properly entered a more than $3.5 million judgment against an insurance company in a long-running dispute over the amount of coverage owed to a company’s liquidating trust for asbestos personal injury claims, a federal judge held Sept. 17 in affirming the award, plus a $60,000 penalty for the insurer’s “vexatious and unreasonable conduct” (Continental Casualty Company v. Barry A. Chatz, Nos. 17-cv-05281, 17-cv-06989, N.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158352).
WILMINGTON, Del. — A Delaware federal judge on Sept. 17 affirmed a bankruptcy court’s finding that the interest rate in the reorganization plan for former Chapter 11 debtor W.R. Grace & Co. must be used when determining how much the Internal Revenue Service owes the company for a tax refund (United States v. W.R. Grace & Co., et al., No. 17-cv-1588, D. Del., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 157895).
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Chapter 11 debtor Kaiser Gypsum Co. on Sept. 13 sought approval of its reorganization plan’s disclosure statement on the same day the United States filed a statement in interest in the case, saying it will oppose any plan for the debtor that does not include provisions to ensure that asbestos disease claimants who receive payments from an asbestos trust repay Medicare for their medical care (In re Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc., et al., No. 16-31602, W.D. N.C. Bkcy.).
NEW YORK — A trial court properly granted a new trial on past pain and suffering damages unless the defendant agrees to a $4 million award, but the $1.5 million award for future damages did not exceed what was reasonable and should not have been increased, a New York appellate court held Sept. 13 (In re New York City Asbestos Litigation, Ann Marie Idell, etc. v. Aerco International Inc., et al., No. 190219/16 -6938 6937 6936, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 1st Dept., 2018 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 6018).
WILMINGTON, Del. — A recent Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals remand ruling seeking Delaware federal bankruptcy court decisions on what asbestos claims, if any, insurers of former Chapter 11 debtor W.R. Grace & Co. are liable for needs to be addressed in a similar action alleging negligence against the insurers, the plaintiff in that action tells the bankruptcy court in a Sept. 10 brief filed at the request of the court (In re: W.R. Grace & Co., et al., No. 01-01139, D. Del. Bkcy.).
TRENTON, N.J. — Family-owned sheet metal equipment company Duro Dyne National Corp. sought Chapter 11 protection on Sept. 7 in New Jersey federal bankruptcy court to shed the business of its asbestos personal injury claims while remaining operational (In re: Duro Dyne National Corp., et al., No. 18-27968, D. N.J. Bkcy.).