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Kazan Partner David McClain Serves as Key Witness in Major Asbestos Bankruptcy Trial

David McClainBecause of Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood’s acknowledged expertise in asbestos claims, one of our principal partners David McClain recently was asked to serve as a key fact witness in a major asbestos bankruptcy case underway in Charlotte, NC.[1]  The outcome of this trial will determine how much Garlock Sealing Technologies and its parent company Enpro will have to pay into a trust fund for victims exposed to its asbestos-containing products.

According to David, “It was acknowledged by the counsel representing both present and future asbestos victims that we are among the foremost experts in this type of litigation and would be in the best position to tell the judge about Garlock’s liability.”

Garlock wants to set aside about $270 million for the trust. The claimants are asking for over a billion dollars from Garlock and its parent company Enpro.

As part of its legal strategy, Garlock filed for asbestos reorganization in federal bankruptcy court. The gasket manufacturing company’s case went to trial in early August to determine its total liability.  Although the evidence is now closed[2] a decision is not likely soon as the judge has much to consider

Garlock went to federal bankruptcy court to avoid more expensive lengthy trials for individual claims, which often resulted in big settlements. Now, to reduce the amount of the trust for claimants as part of a bankruptcy settlement, Garlock is attempting to prove that the victims’ cases are dishonest, because they may have been exposed to asbestos from sources other than their products, even though this argument has never worked for it in court when they actually tried cases.

“They (Garlock) have the money to pay up.  They just want to keep it for themselves. So they were trying to claim that the plaintiffs were being dishonest.  I countered that, and showed that it’s not true,” David commented when we discussed the case.

David pointed out to the judge how under California law, plaintiffs only need to show that the company’s gaskets increased the risk of developing mesothelioma, the fatal cancer caused by asbestos exposure. This ruling provided incentive for Garlock to avoid individual trials by paying its fair share in settlements of those cases.

When the judge hands down a decision on this asbestos bankruptcy case, I will report to you about it right here on the Kazan Law Blog.

[1]    Evolving litigation landscape led to settlements, witness testifies at Garlock trial; Legal Newsline; Aug 7, 2013

[2]  Garlock bankruptcy trial concludes in N.C.; Legal Newsline; Aug 23, 2013

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