Month: February 2015

$358 Million Asbestos Settlement

$358 million asbestos settlement has been announced by a company that was facing bankruptcy. The settlement involves future asbestos claimants with claims against Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC. Of the amount provided, $250 million will be contributed when the company’s reorganization plan is put into effect and $77.5 million will be contributed over the next seven years.

8M Asbestos Settlement AnnouncedThe settlement was reportedly negotiated with Joe Grier, who was appointed by the courts to represent future asbestos claimants. According to Forbes (1/14/15), current plaintiffs are seeking more than $1 billion from Garlock. The settlement could represent an issue between current and future asbestos claimants. Current plaintiffs are those who have already become ill and filed a lawsuit. Future claimants – those affected by this settlement – are those who may not yet be ill but will be and will file a lawsuit once they are diagnosed. Claims made in the future can be affected by the results of current lawsuits.

Money has also been set aside to cover claimants who refuse the settlement offer and file a lawsuit instead.

Forbes reports that Garlock has filed a lawsuit against five asbestos law firms, alleging plaintiffs’ lawyers hid evidence that their clients were exposed to asbestos from other sources so they could obtain higher awards and settlements from Garlock, especially since the other companies had already declared bankruptcy. According to Reuters (1/21/15), one plaintiff told his lawyer he was exposed to 14 different asbestos products, but presented contradictory evidence in his lawsuit.

Plaintiffs’ lawyers have denied any wrongdoing.

Asbestos litigation is typically long and complicated for a variety of reasons. First, it can take decades for illnesses associated with asbestos exposure – including mesothelioma and asbestosis – to develop. Second, plaintiffs who were exposed to asbestos may have been exposed in a variety of settings and situations. Those who worked as plumbers or as mechanics, for example, may have worked a variety of jobs hired by multiple employers where they were exposed to asbestos. They may also have been exposed to different types of asbestos from different manufacturers, making it difficult to pinpoint which exposure was the most significant cause of the asbestos-related illness.

Asbestos lawsuits filed by some plaintiffs have named dozens of defendants including employers and manufacturers.

The current asbestos claimants’ lawsuit is In re: Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC, case number 3:10-bk-31607, in US Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of North Carolina.

$11M Awarded in Toyota Camry Sudden Unintended Acceleration Lawsuit

An $11 million verdict has been awarded to the plaintiffs in a Toyota sudden acceleration personal injury lawsuit resulting from a defect in a 1996 Camry. The jury ruled that the defect contributed to an accident which left three people dead and two seriously injured.

While the jury found that the Camry’s driver, Koua Fong Lee, was 40% responsible for the crash, they cited Toyota as being 60 percent responsible. In the 2006 crash Lee rear-ended an Oldsmobile after exiting a highway. The driver of the Oldsmobile, Javis Trice-Adams Sr., and his son were instantly killed. His niece, also in the Oldsmobile, became a quadriplegic as a result of the crash and died 18 months later. Trice-Adams’ father and daughter, also passengers, were injured as well.

The jury awarded both families a combined $11.4 million, though due to Lee’s partial responsibility, his $1.25 million award will be reduced to $750,000, according to his lawyers.

In 2008, Lee was convicted of negligent homicide and sentenced to eight years in prison. However, his conviction was overturned after Toyota’s recalls of later-model cars for acceleration defects, tied to floor mats and pedals, brought new attention to the case. Lee had claimed that the Camry started to accelerate by itself and that the car didn’t respond when he hit the brakes. Prosecutors declined to re-charge Lee, who served more than two years in prison.

In 2010, the Trice-Adams family sued Toyota claiming a defect in the Camry caused it to suddenly accelerate. Lee and his family intervened as plaintiffs later that year. The plaintiffs argued the accelerator got stuck in a “near wide-open position,” calling other Camry owners to testify at trial that they experienced similar problems.