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October 16, 2018

Garlock Asbestos Settlement Tied to Quality of Opposing Lawyers, 'High Risk' Facts, Venue

DALLAS, March 6, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Recently released documents in the Garlock Sealing Technologies’ bankruptcy show that the company decided to settle asbestos claims filed by attorneys from Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett, PC, partly because the Texas-based law firm has some of “the best trial lawyers in the country” and the risk of taking the cases to trial was too high.

In a series of internal “major expense project approvals” released March 4, Garlock’s own advisers provided the justification for settling hundreds of asbestos exposure lawsuits. The documents devote multiple pages to cases handled by Simon Greenstone’s predecessor firm, Simon, Eddins & Greenstone.

One document recommended that Garlock approve a $3.1 million settlement involving 19 of the firm’s lawsuits that were awaiting trial in Los Angeles in 2008. The settlement came to roughly $163,157 per case.

“The deal, although rich, is favorable and advisable,” the document states. “First, the per case average is down from what we have recently paid on mesothelioma claims handled by Simon, Eddins & Greenstone in not only California, but in other jurisdictions as well. In the recent past, we have paid Simons (sic), Eddins & Greenstone $300,000 and above on various mesothelioma claims.

“Second, the deal provides certainty relative to very high risk cases, in an extremely bad jurisdiction, being handled by some if (sic) the best trial lawyers in the country,” the document states.

The Garlock communications also reference “high risk” facts and concerns about trial venue.

Garlock sued Simon Greenstone in 2014, claiming the company had been duped into settling certain lawsuits brought by mesothelioma victims fatally injured by asbestos products. The recently released documents provide further justification of Simon Greenstone’s assertion that Garlock settled with Simon Greenstone’s clients because it was a good business decision, according to attorney Michael W. Magner, who represents the firm in that suit.

“Garlock is simply trying to reduce the amount of money it must pay to those harmed by its products,” Mr. Magner says. “As anybody can tell from reading the major expense project approvals, it is clear that Garlock based its decision to settle on the facts of the case, the venue and the quality of the legal representation.

“We have said all along that unsealing the record would prove that Garlock’s suit is nonsense, and these documents are the smoking gun,” Mr. Magner says. “Garlock’s attempts to reduce what the company owes its victims are nothing but revisionist history and an attempt to discourage victims of asbestos products from seeking just compensation. Garlock made a considered decision to do what most civil litigants do: settle. If the company isn’t happy with how those cases turned out, it has no one to blame but its own officers, attorneys and consultants.”

For more information or to obtain electronic versions of the major expense approval reports, contact Amy Hunt at 800-559-4534 or amy@androvett.com.

To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/garlock-asbestos-settlement-tied-to-quality-of-opposing-lawyers-high-risk-facts-venue-300046630.html

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Garlock Asbestos Settlement Tied to Quality of Opposing Lawyers, 'High Risk' Facts, Venue

Unsealed U.S. lawsuits tell of alleged fraud by asbestos law firms

By Tom Hals

Jan 20 (Reuters) – U.S. personal injury lawyers allegedly concealed evidence and induced clients to commit perjury to drive up asbestos-related settlements and garner bigger fees, according to lawsuits unsealed on Tuesday in the bankruptcy of a gasket maker.

The unsealed racketeering complaints alleged that four law firms sued Garlock Sealing Technologies, which made asbestos-lined gaskets, while hiding evidence that their clients were exposed to asbestos products made by other companies.

The evidence was allegedly hidden because the other companies were bankrupt, making Garlock a much more attractive target for an asbestos lawsuit, according to the complaints.

Garlock, a unit of EnPro Industries, filed for bankruptcy in 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the face of the mounting cost of asbestos lawsuits.

The unsealed complaints cite many examples of alleged fraud, including the Shein Law Center’s handling of a lawsuit by Vincent Golini, who was diagnosed with deadly mesothelioma in 2009.

Golini allegedly told Philadelphia-based Shein he was exposed to 14 asbestos products made by bankrupt companies including Owens Corning and Armstrong World Industries. But when Golini sued Garlock he denied exposure to any products made by a bankrupt manufacturer, according to the complaint.

After Garlock settled with Golini, Shein had Golini file claims with the asbestos trusts that were set up by Owens Corning and other bankrupt makers of asbestos products. Those trusts often pay only a small fraction of a claim.

Shein’s lawyer, Daniel Brier of Myers Brier & Kelly, said the racketeering lawsuit is completely without merit and Shein represented its clients “ethically and properly”.

Garlock’s Chapter 11 case has drawn national attention due to the company’s allegations that personal injury lawyers fraudulently inflated judgments and settlements.

The racketeering lawsuits were originally filed in early 2014. They were ordered unsealed last summer but only became available to the public on Tuesday.

The allegations in the unsealed documents appeared to have already been discussed publicly in an opinion in 2014 by Judge George Hodges. That opinion set Garlock’s liability for asbestos at $125 million and said the company’s past settlements were tainted by fraud.

The others were Belluck & Fox of New York; and Waters Kraus & Paul and Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett of Dallas. Mark Iola, a partner at Iola Galerston, also in Dallas, was also sued.

Attorneys for the law firms said Garlock was trying to relitigate settled cases and blame others for the consequences of its own conduct.

(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Additional reporting by Jessica Dye in New York)

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Unsealed U.S. lawsuits tell of alleged fraud by asbestos law firms

Garlock offers revised bankruptcy deal for asbestos claims

By Jessica Dye

NEW YORK, Jan 14 (Reuters) – EnPro Industries and a bankrupt subsidiary, Garlock Sealing Technologies, have struck a deal with a plaintiffs’ lawyer to set aside $357.5 million to cover asbestos related claims, but others are expected to oppose the deal.

EnPro and Garlock, a bankrupt maker of asbestos-lined gaskets, said in a release late on Tuesday that the agreement could be approved in 15 to 24 months as part of an amended reorganization plan it will submit to the North Carolina court where Garlock filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in June 2010.

If approved, the plan would allow a reorganized Garlock to shed its liability for asbestos litigation, the latest phase in a bankruptcy touted by manufacturers as fundamentally shifting the legal terrain in asbestos cases in their favor.

The companies estimated the deal’s after-tax value to be roughly $205 million.

The deal was struck with an attorney representing people with future claims for an cancer known as mesothelioma and other asbestos-related health issues.

But EnPro and Garlock said they expect a separate group of plaintiffs’ lawyers representing current asbestos plaintiffs to take the unprecedented step of breaking with the future claimants and challenge the deal.

Those lawyers had previously asked Judge George Hodges to make Garlock put aside up to $1 billion for estimated asbestos claims. Garlock said that figure was inflated by fraud and manipulation in past settlements.

Following a trial, Hodges in January estimated Garlock’s asbestos liability to be just $125 million, and criticized plaintiffs’ lawyers for “infect(ing) fatally the settlement process and historic data.”

EnPro CEO Steve Macadam said in an investor call on Wednesday that the company had attempted to negotiate a settlement of asbestos claims with representatives for both groups of claimants. Macadam said that while a consensual deal would have been preferable, support from future claimants would help the plan win approval.

The agreement marks the first time in an asbestos-related bankruptcy that representatives for future and current claimants had split over a health claims funding agreement, Macadam said.

Asbestos plaintiffs’ lawyer Peter Kraus said the agreement violated a requirement that asbestos trusts secure approval from 75 percent of claimants.

Macadam said that, based on Hodges’ ruling, he believed the majority of Garlock’s liability came from future asbestos claims.

Garlock has also taken the unusual step of suing five plaintiffs’ firms for alleged abusive behavior in asbestos cases. Those cases are pending.

(Reporting by Jessica Dye; Additional reporting by Tom Hals in Delaware; Editing by Christian Plumb)

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Garlock offers revised bankruptcy deal for asbestos claims

Manufacturer's Lonely Quest To Open Asbestos Claims Files Gains Strength

The American philosopher William James once observed that real scientific breakthroughs are achieved by “the born geniuses” who “let themselves be worried and fascinated” by exceptions to widely held theories about how the world works. They chase down explanations, he said, until the conventional wisdom is upset.

Something similar may be happening with asbestos litigation. A manufacturer’s stubborn crusade to open up the records of thousands of claims in asbestos cases has drawn the support of big names like Ford and Aetna, as they join in the effort to uncover evidence that lawyers have been gaming the multibillion-dollar system with conflicting stories about how their clients got sick.

The evidence is all there, in hundreds of thousands of claim forms and lawsuits filed by people seeking tens of billions of dollars for asbestos-related diseases. But plaintiff lawyers have mounted a fierce effort to keep most of those records sealed, in defiance of the normal presumption that court proceedings should be open to the public.

A bankruptcy judge in Charlotte, N.C. today is scheduled to hear arguments on motions by Aetna, Ford, Volkswagen, Honeywell and other companies to make public evidence Garlock Sealing Technologies uncovered in its bankruptcy. (Legal Newsline, a publication funded by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, has a similar case on appeal in federal court.)

In a January ruling, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge George R. Hodges slashed the asbestos liability of Garlock, an EnPro Industries unit, by $1 billion to to $125 million, citing evidence that lawyers had withheld information about their clients’ exposure to other asbestos products in order to pry larger settlements from Garlock.

(Photo credit: jasleen_kaur)

Ford, in a filing earlier this month, said Hodge’s “findings of widespread and demonstrable misconduct by asbestos claimants” and their attorneys suggest there’s valuable evidence in the sealed files that the automaker could use to defend itself. Volkswagen, in a filing earlier this week, said “it is nearly impossible for asbestos defendants to uncover the type of misrepresentation exposed in this proceeding without judicial intervention.”

If the companies are successful, they might finally unravel a pattern of misrepresentation in asbestos litigation that has cost companies billions of dollars and driven many of them into bankruptcy. Defense lawyers say the asbestos-lawsuit business is built upon the secrecy of plaintiff records, since only the lawyers representing asbestos claimants know all the different stories they’ve told in legal proceedings against different companies. (For one egregious example, see my story from 2006.) If those stories can be pulled together into a single file – as a Texas judge a few years ago did to uncover a massive fraud involving silicosis claims – then companies might have a better shot at limiting payouts to people who have already collected for their disease.

All the companies are seeking Rule 2019 filings, so named after the provision of the federal bankruptcy code that requires lawyers to identify clients who have claims against a bankrupt company. They say they need the 2019s to match up people who filed prior asbestos claims against lists of people suing them, so they can uncover evidence those plaintiffs had told conflicting stories about how they got sick.

This is a standard defense in tort law, which requires plaintiffs to prove that a company’s products were a “substantial factor” in causing their illness. As companies that made clearly dangerous products like asbestos pipe insulation have gone bankrupt, plaintiff lawyers have targeted companies like Garlock and Ford who sold products such as gaskets and brake pads that are unlikely to have made anyone sick. To help their clients win, they advise them to remember working only with the products of the company they are suing, even if they have previously made equally exclusive claims against other companies.

Normally 2019 filings are public like any other judicial record, but asbestos lawyers in the early 2000s convinced judges to seal their filings for a variety of reasons. Chief among them: The records might reveal confidential “commercial information,” such as fee arrangements, that would hurt their business. Not only would potential clients be able to play one law firm off against another for lower fees, but the records might reveal fee-splitting arrangements that violate ethics rules in most states. Lawyers are not supposed to get fees for referring clients unless they do significant legal work on the case, but the practice is common in the industry where lawyers draw in clients with TV and Internet ads and then hand them off to firms that focus on litigation and settlement.

The lawyers also said the filings contained confidential medical information, but that argument is undermined by the fact they freely supplied the information for years before seeking to seal 2019 records, and plaintiffs must make all the same information public when they sue.

“A lot of firms simply responded” by filing public 2019 forms with medical information in the early days, said S. Todd Brown, an associate professor at State University of New York Buffalo Law School and expert on asbestos bankruptcy trusts. “It wasn’t until later, after the litigation really got into full swing, that the current approach (of sealing records) became more common. Now everything is filed under seal and you have to jump through a bunch of hoops to get access to it.”

The plaintiff lawyers had an ally in Judge Judith Fitzgerald, since retired to private practice, who oversaw a number of high-profile bankruptcies including Pittsburgh Corning, Armstrong World Industries, Federal-Mogul and Combustion Engineering. She allowed the lawyers to submit their 2019 filings on CDs, to be held by the court and released only on a judge’s order.

Not many people asked for the records until Garlock was driven into bankruptcy in 2010 by the escalating demands of asbestos plaintiff lawyers. The company had been settling asbestos claims for small amounts for years because its products contained a type of asbestos believed to be 1/1000th as dangerous as the long-fiber amphibole asbestos in insulation, and it was sealed in plastic. A plaintiff who took such a case to trial would have a hard time establishing the legal level of proof to win any damages. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals threw out a $500,000 jury verdict against Garlock on this basis in 2011, saying that to blame a pipefitter’s mesothelioma on Garlock gaskets would “be akin to saying that one who pours a bucket of water into the ocean has substantially contributed to the ocean’s volume.”

As solvent defendants went bankrupt, however, plaintiff lawyers started targeting companies like Garlock and demanding far more money to settle claims than they had before. Garlock’s attorneys figured their best defense might be to obtain evidence of other exposures, which would be contained in the 2019 filings and related paperwork filed with trusts bankrupt companies established to pay asbestos claims. But they hit a brick wall.

See the original article here – 

Manufacturer's Lonely Quest To Open Asbestos Claims Files Gains Strength

Manufacturer's Lonely Quest To Open Asbestos Claims Files Gains Strength

The American philosopher William James once observed that real scientific breakthroughs are achieved by “the born geniuses” who “let themselves be worried and fascinated” by exceptions to widely held theories about how the world works. They chase down explanations, he said, until the conventional wisdom is upset.

Something similar may be happening with asbestos litigation. A manufacturer’s stubborn crusade to open up the records of thousands of claims in asbestos cases has drawn the support of big names like Ford and Aetna, as they join in the effort to uncover evidence that lawyers have been gaming the multibillion-dollar system with conflicting stories about how their clients got sick.

The evidence is all there, in hundreds of thousands of claim forms and lawsuits filed by people seeking tens of billions of dollars for asbestos-related diseases. But plaintiff lawyers have mounted a fierce effort to keep most of those records sealed, in defiance of the normal presumption that court proceedings should be open to the public.

A bankruptcy judge in Charlotte, N.C. today is scheduled to hear arguments on motions by Aetna, Ford, Volkswagen, Honeywell and other companies to make public evidence Garlock Sealing Technologies uncovered in its bankruptcy. (Legal Newsline, a publication funded by the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, has a similar case on appeal in federal court.)

In a January ruling, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge George R. Hodges slashed the asbestos liability of Garlock, an EnPro Industries unit, by $1 billion to to $125 million, citing evidence that lawyers had withheld information about their clients’ exposure to other asbestos products in order to pry larger settlements from Garlock.

(Photo credit: jasleen_kaur)

Ford, in a filing earlier this month, said Hodge’s “findings of widespread and demonstrable misconduct by asbestos claimants” and their attorneys suggest there’s valuable evidence in the sealed files that the automaker could use to defend itself. Volkswagen, in a filing earlier this week, said “it is nearly impossible for asbestos defendants to uncover the type of misrepresentation exposed in this proceeding without judicial intervention.”

If the companies are successful, they might finally unravel a pattern of misrepresentation in asbestos litigation that has cost companies billions of dollars and driven many of them into bankruptcy. Defense lawyers say the asbestos-lawsuit business is built upon the secrecy of plaintiff records, since only the lawyers representing asbestos claimants know all the different stories they’ve told in legal proceedings against different companies. (For one egregious example, see my story from 2006.) If those stories can be pulled together into a single file – as a Texas judge a few years ago did to uncover a massive fraud involving silicosis claims – then companies might have a better shot at limiting payouts to people who have already collected for their disease.

All the companies are seeking Rule 2019 filings, so named after the provision of the federal bankruptcy code that requires lawyers to identify clients who have claims against a bankrupt company. They say they need the 2019s to match up people who filed prior asbestos claims against lists of people suing them, so they can uncover evidence those plaintiffs had told conflicting stories about how they got sick.

This is a standard defense in tort law, which requires plaintiffs to prove that a company’s products were a “substantial factor” in causing their illness. As companies that made clearly dangerous products like asbestos pipe insulation have gone bankrupt, plaintiff lawyers have targeted companies like Garlock and Ford who sold products such as gaskets and brake pads that are unlikely to have made anyone sick. To help their clients win, they advise them to remember working only with the products of the company they are suing, even if they have previously made equally exclusive claims against other companies.

Normally 2019 filings are public like any other judicial record, but asbestos lawyers in the early 2000s convinced judges to seal their filings for a variety of reasons. Chief among them: The records might reveal confidential “commercial information,” such as fee arrangements, that would hurt their business. Not only would potential clients be able to play one law firm off against another for lower fees, but the records might reveal fee-splitting arrangements that violate ethics rules in most states. Lawyers are not supposed to get fees for referring clients unless they do significant legal work on the case, but the practice is common in the industry where lawyers draw in clients with TV and Internet ads and then hand them off to firms that focus on litigation and settlement.

The lawyers also said the filings contained confidential medical information, but that argument is undermined by the fact they freely supplied the information for years before seeking to seal 2019 records, and plaintiffs must make all the same information public when they sue.

“A lot of firms simply responded” by filing public 2019 forms with medical information in the early days, said S. Todd Brown, an associate professor at State University of New York Buffalo Law School and expert on asbestos bankruptcy trusts. “It wasn’t until later, after the litigation really got into full swing, that the current approach (of sealing records) became more common. Now everything is filed under seal and you have to jump through a bunch of hoops to get access to it.”

The plaintiff lawyers had an ally in Judge Judith Fitzgerald, since retired to private practice, who oversaw a number of high-profile bankruptcies including Pittsburgh Corning, Armstrong World Industries, Federal-Mogul and Combustion Engineering. She allowed the lawyers to submit their 2019 filings on CDs, to be held by the court and released only on a judge’s order.

Not many people asked for the records until Garlock was driven into bankruptcy in 2010 by the escalating demands of asbestos plaintiff lawyers. The company had been settling asbestos claims for small amounts for years because its products contained a type of asbestos believed to be 1/1000th as dangerous as the long-fiber amphibole asbestos in insulation, and it was sealed in plastic. A plaintiff who took such a case to trial would have a hard time establishing the legal level of proof to win any damages. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals threw out a $500,000 jury verdict against Garlock on this basis in 2011, saying that to blame a pipefitter’s mesothelioma on Garlock gaskets would “be akin to saying that one who pours a bucket of water into the ocean has substantially contributed to the ocean’s volume.”

As solvent defendants went bankrupt, however, plaintiff lawyers started targeting companies like Garlock and demanding far more money to settle claims than they had before. Garlock’s attorneys figured their best defense might be to obtain evidence of other exposures, which would be contained in the 2019 filings and related paperwork filed with trusts bankrupt companies established to pay asbestos claims. But they hit a brick wall.

Credit:

Manufacturer's Lonely Quest To Open Asbestos Claims Files Gains Strength

Case Sheds Light On The Murky World Of Asbestos Litigation

hide captionCompanies have set aside more than $30 billion for victims of mesothelioma, a form of cancer linked to asbestos exposure, since 1980.

iStockphoto

Companies have set aside more than $30 billion for victims of mesothelioma, a form of cancer linked to asbestos exposure, since 1980.

Companies have set aside more than $30 billion for victims of mesothelioma, a form of cancer linked to asbestos exposure, since 1980.

iStockphoto

This is a case about a bankrupt company, legal shenanigans, and a rare type of cancer.

You may have seen TV commercials about mesothelioma, mainly caused by inhaling asbestos — minerals many companies once used in insulation and other products.

According to a 2011 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, companies have set aside more than $30 billion for mesothelioma victims since the 1980s. Asbestos lawsuits have played a role in about 100 companies’ going bankrupt.

One of those is a gasket manufacturer called Garlock. Its parent company, EnPro Industries, is based in Charlotte, N.C. As part of Garlock’s $1 billion bankruptcy case, a judge has slashed what the manufacturer owes asbestos victims after finding that the victim’s lawyers abused the system.

Some call Garlock’s bankruptcy case a watershed moment.

“It’s laid bare the massive fraud that is routinely practiced in mesothelioma litigation,” says Lester Brickman, a Cardozo law school professor who has researched asbestos litigation for more than 20 years and who testified on behalf of Garlock.

In Texas, one plaintiff said his only exposure to asbestos was from Garlock — after his lawyers filed a claim with another company. In California, a plaintiff’s lawyers misled a jury to make Garlock look worse. And in Philadelphia, lawyers made evidence of their client’s exposure to 20 different asbestos products disappear.

Those are just a few of the old cases that federal bankruptcy judge George Hodges gave Garlock’s lawyers permission to re-examine back in late 2012.

“As [Hodges] says in his order,” says Rick Magee, one of Garlock’s attorneys, “we were able to demonstrate in all — each and every one of those 15 cases — that there was extensive suppression of exposure evidence.”

In doing so, Garlock persuaded Hodges to drastically reduce the estimate for how much the company still owes victims.

No one argues that people suffering from mesothelioma shouldn’t get compensated. Instead, it’s a matter of the right companies paying the right amounts.

The victims’ lawyers argued that the company still owes about $1 billion, based on Garlock’s past settlements. But in his January decision, Hodges wrote that that estimate is “infected with the impropriety of some law firms and inflated by the cost of defense.”

The head of one of those firms, Peter Kraus, managing partner of Waters & Kraus in Dallas, disagrees.

“There are some of those cases that involve my firm,” he says. “So I know for a fact from those cases that the judge’s description of what happened is simply not correct.”

Kraus says Hodges took a radical approach with his decision. “It’s very, very different from the rulings and findings by judges with a good deal more experience in this area.”

But that argument doesn’t fly with folks at the Institute for Legal Reform at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“When you start building the case, when you start seeing more and more of these instances, you got to really question whether this is an outlier or not,” says Harold Kim, the organization’s executive vice president.

Judges in Delaware, Ohio and Virginia have also noted dubious legal maneuvering in asbestos litigation, though not on the scale of the Garlock case. Kim says the case will be a wake-up call for other judges, which will lead to more accurate estimates of what companies really owe.

For Garlock, the judge estimates that’s $125 million. But the case isn’t finished, and victims’ lawyers are likely to challenge that amount.

In the meantime, Garlock is suing some of the people who are suing it. The company is going after six law firms for the types of practices it uncovered in its bankruptcy case.

Link: 

Case Sheds Light On The Murky World Of Asbestos Litigation

Embattled Gasket Maker Sues Asbestos Lawyers For Fraud

Asbestos lungs

Whose asbestos did this? (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Gasket manufacturer Garlock Technologies has sued four prominent asbestos law firms for fraud as it awaits a bankruptcy judge’s decision on how much money the company must set aside to settle thousands of claims against it.

The company says the law firms sued it on behalf of clients who had already made conflicting claims about their asbestos exposure against other companies.

The complaints “allege that these firms concealed evidence about their clients’ exposure to asbestos products and concealed it in litigation against” Garlock, said Don Washington, a spokesman for Garlock parent EnPro Industries. “In essence they double-dipped.”

Named in the lawsuits are: Belluck & Fox and Shein Law Center in Philadelphia; and Simon Greenstone and Waters & Krause in Dallas. Waters & Krause, in a statement, said the lawsuit against it “represents just the latest in a series of actions by Garlock to avoid being held accountable for helping to cause the deaths of thousands of Navy veterans and others from the asbestos found in the company’s products.”

Garlock entered bankruptcy in 2010 after its cost of settling asbestos suits skyrocketed from $5,000 per claim past $70,000, in a familiar cycle as other defendants went bankrupt and lawyers escalated their demands against the few remaining solvent manufacturers. Garlock says it owes plaintiffs nothing because its products contained small amounts of a less dangerous form of asbestos; plaintiff lawyers have suggested the firm owes $1.4 billion. EnPro has said it believes the bankruptcy shields the parent company from asbestos against Garlock division.

Garlock has fought to make evidence of fraud public, but U.S. Bankruptcy Judge George Hodges in Charlotte, N.C. has refused. Hodges even ejected reporters from his courtroom during proceedings this summer in which Garlock’s lawyers presented evidence that plaintiffs making claims against it had denied its products caused their illness when suing other companies. Hodges agreed with plaintiff lawyers that those claims were confidential medical records. To comply with the judge’s rulings, Garlock filed the lawsuits late yesterday under seal.

EnPro said yesterday it expects Judge Hodges to release his opinion estimating its liability after 4 p.m. today.

By suing the asbestos lawyers who are suing it, Garlock is following in the steps of CSX, which in 2012 won a $429,000 fraud verdict against Pittsburgh lawyers Robert Peirce and Louis Raimond after uncovering evidence the lawyers had used phony diagnoses from discredited Dr. Ray Harron to fabricate asbestos cases against the railroad. Evidence in that case included internal memos suggesting the lawyers knew Harron was “very, very liberal” with his diagnoses, but, Peirce said in one letter, “even a disputed diagnosis case has some value.”

The lawyers also hired an unlicensed tech to run a mobile X-ray screening program, and let a doctor use an automatic signature stamp to sign medical reports.

It isn’t clear what’s in the complaints Garlock filed under seal, but attorney Samuel Tarry with McGuire Woods in Richmond, who represented CSX, told me fake diagnoses lie at the core of most such cases.

“If we’re going to see more of this litigation it’s because there are unfortunately still doctors who are willing to say whatever lawyers ask them to say,” said Tarry, who declined to comment directly on the CSX case because it is on appeal.

Garlock previously accused another law firm of fraud for making conflicting stories about how its client was exposed to asbestos. Plaintiff lawyers accused the company of trying to game its bankruptcy by disrupting long-settled methods of assessing liability based upon previous court verdicts.

Pursuing law firms for fraud is difficult because plaintiff lawyers try to shield all of their documents under the attorney-client privilege.

“It’s a challenge to prove intent unless you have smoking-gun documents,” Tarry said.

Link to original: 

Embattled Gasket Maker Sues Asbestos Lawyers For Fraud