$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.