Asbestos Claim Skyrockets into Billions for Settlement in Bankruptcy Court

The fight over asbestos exposure in workplaces and homes has plagued defendant companies for over 20 years. After billions of dollars have been paid out to victims and their families, companies being held liable for injuries caused by the chemical are forced to resort to drastic measures in order to come up with compensation money. Over the last twenty-five years, a staggering amount of money has changed hands over asbestos and now, millions hang by a string in one singular Charlotte case.

The case is being heard in a Charlotte bankruptcy court where Garlock Sealing Technologies is trying to deal with the staggering number being asked for by plaintiffs in a single case of asbestos exposure. The company claims that its liability to the plaintiff is limited to $125 million, having already paid $1.3 billion in similar damages. Legal representatives for the multiple victims in the case are not satisfied with the proposed amount, claiming that the company owes at least another $1.3 million in additional damages.

Garlock is a New York subsidiary of EnPro Industries in Charlotte, North Carolina. The company is involved in producing equipment used in industries including petrochemicals, mining, power generation and pharmaceutical manufacturing. Their products have been found to contain asbestos, a widely known carcinogen, which is a name for known materials or chemicals that cause cancer.

The company took the route that many corporations take when facing massive amounts of asbestos claims, filing chapter 11 bankruptcy to help with settling thousands of claims. In the filing, Garlock maintains that liability for the claims of asbestos injuries is non-existent and that its products are safe. Regardless, as a means of covering future payments, it has agreed to set up an asbestos trust fund of $270 million to cover the claims. This is done according to federal law, which allows companies to alleviate liability by establishing these public trusts. The first of these were set up decades ago and are thought to have paid out up to $18 billion in damages since.

As far as the Garlock case goes, the defense is making accusations of "double dipping," stating that plaintiffs are filing claims of poisonings from multiple products individually so that they can collect damages for each claim, although the ultimate source for the alleged injuries is the same thing. This was demonstrated by attorneys who gathered information about victims who sued Garlock and after collecting, turned around and sued other companies.

Asbestos claims have been an issue of major concern for industrial companies across the nation. While the question of whether victims are taking advantage of the leniency towards their situation remains debatable, the danger of asbestos poisoning is undeniable. Asbestos is known to cause a rare and extremely dangerous form of cancer known as Mesothelioma, which lodges itself primarily in the lungs. Over 30,000 deaths were linked to the cancer between 1998 and 2007, according to the Center for Disease Control. If you or a family member was exposed to asbestos in their work place and is now suffering from mesothelioma or lung cancer, contact an asbestos poisoning attorney today.


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