SAN FRANCISCO — An insurer had no reason to believe that it was liable for a defunct company’s asbestos liabilities until after entry of default judgment and has shown that it could possibly raise a meritorious defense, a California appeals court held Dec. 11 in setting aside millions of dollars in judgments (William Mechling v. Asbestos Defendants, et al., James Greely v. Asbestos Defendants, et al., Omar Barstad v. Lamons Gasket Co., et al., Alexander Corns v. Amcord Inc., et al., Nos. A150132, A150134, A150125, A150138, Calif. App., 1st Dist.).
BOSTON — Whether the Legislature was the “model of clarity” when it passed a law designed to protect contractors from liability for improvements to real property or whether it is manifestly unfair to set a six-year limit that provides an absolute bar to the most meritorious cases sits before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court after Dec. 4 oral arguments (June Stearns, et al. v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., et al., No. SJC-12544, Mass. Sup. Jud.).
TROY, Mich. — A subsidiary of commercial vehicle and industrial products maker Meritor Inc. is planning a “prepackaged” Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization to shed its asbestos liabilities through a Section 524(g) trust — if it wins approval of voting asbestos personal injury claimants, the parent company said in a Dec. 4 news release.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — An asbestos defendant’s dissolution is not the same as a bankruptcy and does not put it within an exception to the bar on direct suits against insurers of alleged tortfeasors, a Rhode Island justice said Nov. 19 (Shirley D’Amico, et al. v. A.O. Smith Corp., et al., No. 2012-0403, R.I. Super., Providence Plantation, 2018 R.I. Super. LEXIS 103).
SAN FRANCISCO — The California Supreme Court on Nov. 28 denied a petition for review in a case where a lower court applied Kansas law over the law of two other states in an asbestos friction-parts case, while conceding that it made proving causation a “near impossibility” (Gerald Hake v. Allied Fluid Products Corp., et al., No S252135, Calif. Sup.).
WILMINGTON, Del. — Testimony that a man worked on, and around others working on, automobile engines in enclosed spaces and evidence that the vast majority of cylinder head gaskets contained asbestos during that time are sufficient to deny a company summary judgment, a couple told the Delaware Supreme Court on Nov. 27 (In re: Asbestos Litigation, Philip Lavelle, et al. v. Federal-Mogul Asbestos Personal Injury Trust, et al., No. N16C-03-079 ASB, Del. Sup.).
NEW YORK — A divided New York Court of Appeals on Nov. 27 affirmed a ruling setting aside an $11 million asbestos verdict, finding that the evidence did not support the conclusion that Ford Motor Co.’s products were the proximate cause of a man’s fatal mesothelioma under Parker v. Mobil Oil Corp. (In re New York City Asbestos Litigation, Mary Juni, etc. v. A.O. Smith Water Products Co., et al., No. APL-2017-00114, N.Y. App.).
WILMINGTON, Del. — Three asbestos trust claimants cannot pursue breach of fiduciary duty allegations against the trustees because their adversary action was never authorized, though one of the claimants has sufficient standing as a beneficiary of the trust to amend the complaint, a Delaware federal bankruptcy judge ruled Nov. 16 (In re: Swan Transportation Co., No. 01-11690 [Richard Smith, et al. v. W.D. Hilton, Jr., et al., No. 17-50053], D. Del. Bkcy., 2018 Bankr. LEXIS 3673).
TACOMA, Wash. — A Washington federal bankruptcy judge on Nov. 20 allowed Chapter 11 debtor Fraser’s Boiler Service Inc. to include certain releases and exculpations in its amended plan of reorganization, over the objections of the U.S. trustee and insurers, but said the debtor cannot release an asbestos trust trustee and advisory committee from claims because the trust does not exist yet (In re: Fraser’s Boiler Service, Inc., No. 18-41245, W.D. Wash. Bkcy., 2018 Bankr. LEXIS 3662).
TRENTON, N.J. — A New Jersey federal bankruptcy judge on Nov. 20 approved the disclosure statement for Chapter 11 debtor Duro Dyne National Corp.’s prenegotiated plan of reorganization and set a date for the plan’s confirmation hearing (In re: Duro Dyne National Corp., et al., No. 18-27963, D. N.J. Bkcy.).
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The daughter of a man with mesothelioma who was appointed to the Official Committee of Asbestos Personal Injury Claimants in the Chapter 11 case of Bestwall LLC will succeed her father on the committee as representative of his estate and holder of a wrongful death claim against the debtor after the man died recently, according to a Nov. 20 order in North Carolina federal bankruptcy court (In re Bestwall LLC, No. 17-31795, W.D. N.C. Bkcy.).
LOS ANGELES — A California jury on Nov. 15 found that J-M Manufacturing Co. Inc. acted with malice in exposing a man to asbestos and tacked $15 million in punitive damages on to $15.2 million in compensatory damages it awarded earlier in the week, sources told Mealey Publications (Norris Morgan, et al. v. CBS Corp., et al., No. BC695605, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.).
CHICAGO — An Illinois jury on Oct. 10 awarded $6,022,814.06 to the family of a pipe fitter who died of mesothelioma, sources told Mealey Publications (Sharon Daniels, et al. v John Crane Inc., et al., No. 2016-L-011308, Ill. Cir., Cook Co.).
TACOMA, Wash. — A bankruptcy court erred in approving settlements between Chapter 11 debtor Fraser’s Boiler Service Inc. and several asbestos insurers and in barring equitable contribution and breach of contract claims by nonsettling insurers against the insurers, the nonsettling insurers told a Washington federal court Oct. 23 (In re: Fraser’s Boiler Service, Inc., Nos. 3:18-cv-5637 and 3:18-cv-05638, W.D. Wash.).
SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Once again, a South Carolina jury hearing an asbestos-talc case informed the judge that it could not reach a verdict against Johnson & Johnson, culminating on Nov. 15 in a second mistrial in the case in just six months (Bertila Boyd-Bostic v. Imerys Talc America, et al., No. 17-CP-16-0400, S.C. Cir., Darlington Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
TACOMA, Wash. — A Washington federal bankruptcy judge on Nov. 8 denied requests by Chapter 11 debtor Fraser’s Boiler Service Inc. to employ as professionals two experts to help estimate the debtor’s future asbestos liability, but said the company is free to hire the experts without court approval and seek reimbursement for their fees (In re: Fraser’s Boiler Service, Inc., No. 18-41245, W.D. Wash. Bkcy.).
TRENTON, N.J. — With new Chapter 11 debtor Duro Dyne National Corp. already on the path to reorganization, a New Jersey federal bankruptcy judge on Oct. 17 denied a request by asbestos insurers to lift the automatic bankruptcy stay so a New York state court coverage case can proceed (In re: Duro Dyne National Corp., et al., No. 18-27963, D. N.J. Bkcy.).
COLUMBIA, Tenn. — A Tennessee jury awarded a widow $2,071,216.21 in her case alleging that her deceased husband was exposed to asbestos in industrial pipes and fittings. The jury’s Sept. 19 verdict held the lone remaining defendant 13 percent liable, sources told Mealey Publications (James Davis, et al. v. Ameron International Corp., et al., No. 15734, Tenn. Cir., Maury Co.).
NEW ORLEANS — A Louisiana jury on Oct. 23 returned a $5,474,934.20 asbestos verdict against shipyard Main Iron Works for a man’s fatal mesothelioma, sources told Mealey Publications (Donald Foret v. Taylor-Seidenbach Inc., et al., No. 2015-9079, La. Dist., Orleans Parish).
TRENTON, N.J. — A U.S. trustee in the Chapter 11 case of Duro Dyne National Corp. is continuing his fight against the usually routine appointment of a future claimants’ representative (FCR), on Oct. 31 appealing a New Jersey federal bankruptcy judge’s order naming a longtime representative for future asbestos claimants as FCR (In re: Duro Dyne National Corp., et al., No. 18-27963, D. N.J. Bkcy.).