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In a precedent-setting settlement deal with future asbestos claimants, Garlock Sealing Technologies agreed to pay nearly $360 million over the course of the next four decades. However, the actual amount available to future claimants will be closer to $236 million, after tax deductions and settlements of certain claimants who filed pre-petition.
That amount is nearly double what a bankruptcy judge estimated the firm’s liability to be – about $125 million for current and future claimants as of January 2014. However, it’s still only a small portion of the $1 billion sought by plaintiff attorneys.
The company for years made gaskets that contained chrysotile asbestos routinely used in pip insulation.
Attorneys for the manufacturer have repeatedly asserted that liability should be lessened because chrysotile asbestos is less dangerous, despite the fact scientists have determined no form of asbestos is safe. Those who came in contact with chrysotile asbestos have been sickened with terminal mesothelioma cancer, just like those who were exposed to other types of the material considered more dangerous.
For Garlock, the ultimate goal is to be released from its current bankruptcy filing. By establishing a fund from which to cover liabilities stemming from asbestos exposure illness, it can reorganize and continue to operate.
However, the settlement deal may end up pitting attorneys for current claimants against those representing the interests of future victims who have not yet filed. Until now, they have largely presented a united front against Garlock. Now, they will be in competition for a finite amount of money.
The settlement agreement indicated future claimants must provide the following criteria:
- Documentation of complete work history;
- Evidence of exposure to Garlock products in particular; and
- Documentation of claims filed with bankruptcy trusts established by other asbestos product manufacturers.
The goal is to minimize the amount plaintiffs can secure from Garlock. Payouts from other bankruptcy trusts will limit the amount available to claimants. This is despite the fact that many plaintiffs legitimately can claim damages from multiple manufacturers.
The settlement agreement also stipulates that any future claimant who rejects the settlement and instead pursues personal injury litigation will need to proceed with their claim through the North Carolina bankruptcy court that oversaw the firm’s filing. That court will rule on pretrial discovery and case management. A total of $130 million has been set aside for this purpose.
Approval of the reorganization plan and settlement won’t be final until later this year, and it’s expected that attorneys for current and future claimants will continue arguing for a more substantial settlement amount.
What’s especially troubling is that a number of companies with pending bankruptcy lawsuits stemming from an influx of asbestos-related disease claims have been closely watching this case. Ultimately, they are developing legal strategies that will help them dispute future claims and limit payouts even when liability is proven.
Our experienced mesothelioma lawyers are dedicated to fighting for the rights of injured workers.
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Frequently Asked Questions: Mesothelioma & Asbestos
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a carcinogenic, naturally occurring fibrous mineral. Known for its heat resistance and durability, asbestos has historically been used in insulation, construction materials, automotive parts, and shipbuilding materials.
Why is asbestos dangerous?
Asbestos is made up of small shard-like fibers that can easily become airborne when disturbed. If inhaled or ingested, these fibers can embed within the lining of the lungs, heart, stomach, or testes where they can cause cancer to form years or decades later.
What are asbestos-related diseases?
Asbestos exposure can cause mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer.
What causes mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is an aggressive and incurable form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Unfortunately, symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until decades after exposure.
What are the different types of mesothelioma?
Three of the most common types of mesothelioma are pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma, and pericardial mesothelioma.
What are common mesothelioma symptoms?
Common symptoms of mesothelioma include difficulty breathing and chest pains. Peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects the stomach, may cause abdominal swelling, loss of appetite, constipation, abdominal pain, and nausea.
Do I qualify for compensation if I have mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a preventable form of cancer most commonly caused by asbestos exposure. If you were exposed to asbestos while serving in the U.S. military or while working in construction, mechanics, or a similar field, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact The Ferraro Law Firm for a free legal consultation.
What is the life expectancy for someone with mesothelioma?
There is no cure for mesothelioma. However, patients can receive treatments for mesothelioma that may extend their initial prognosis with proper treatment. Those diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma usually have a life expectancy that is greater than three years, though a large part of this depends on the stage the patient is diagnosed. The earlier the diagnosis, the longer the life expectancy and chance of long-term survival.
Do I qualify for compensation if I have mesothelioma?
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you should immediately seek long-term medical treatment. After that, you should contact our firm to examine your legal rights. Since 1985, The Ferraro Law Firm has represented individuals with asbestos-related diseases and pursued fair compensation on their behalf. Our firm is one of the top five law firms in the U.S. handling mesothelioma and asbestos cases.
Help for mesothelioma victims can be found at The Ferraro Law Firm by calling (888) 554-2030. Offices in Miami and Washington, D.C.
Contact The Ferraro Law Firm at (305) 375-0111 to explore your legal options with our knowledgeable legal team.