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October 18, 2018

A Stubborn Manufacturer Exposes The Asbestos Blame Game

In a quiet bankruptcy court in Charlotte, N.C., closed to all but court personnel and people who’d signed strict confidentiality orders, attorney Garland Cassada laid out the inner workings of one of the longest-running and most lucrative schemes in the American litigation business.

Arguing for a manufacturer of asbestos gaskets named Garlock Sealing Technologies, Cassada explained how lawyers had tailored the testimony of their clients to minimize their exposure to more dangerous products, thus making Garlock seem more liable than it really was.

Cassada’s evidence for this scheme came from the mouths of the asbestos lawyers themselves. In an unprecedented move Garlock had persuaded U.S. Bankruptcy Judge George Hodges to allow it to dig into case files and question the lawyers who’d helped drive the company into bankruptcy.

EnPro's Steve Macadam: This is ridiculous.

EnPro’s Steve Macadam: This is ridiculous. (Photo credit: David Smith for Forbes)

That led to revealing disclosures like that of Benjamin Shein, a prominent Philadelphia asbestos attorney whose firm had settled the case of a former shipyard worker named Vincent Golini against then-solvent Garlock in 2009.

Golini was dying of the excruciating, asbestos-linked cancer known as mesothelioma when he sued Garlock and testified that he couldn’t recall working with other, more common and more hazardous products like Owens Corning’s Owens Corning’s Kaylo pipe insulation or EaglePicher asbestos cement. As soon as he settled, however, Golini’s lawyers filed claims against those precise companies based on affidavits they’d drawn up before Golini professed ignorance of their products.

“Our goal is to maximize a client’s recovery, okay, and in order to do that, what we focus on for the deposition is the viable, nonbankrupt companies,” said Shein in his own deposition. “That’s our job, okay?”

And had the asbestos lawyers prevailed, Shein’s efforts and Golini’s multiple filings would have remained secret. But thanks to Garlock’s persistence (and a successful lawsuit by Legal Newsline, a U.S. Chamber-funded publication seeking release of sealed court documents) the evidence has come spilling out. That evidence could be the biggest turning point in the decades-long multibillion-dollar battle over who will pay for asbestos cleanup across the U.S. Garlock is suing Shein and lawyers at five other firms for racketeering and fraud over their asbestos litigation. Shein’s lawyer, Daniel Brier, says that “Ben Shein is a zealous advocate for his clients” and the lawsuit has no merit.

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A Stubborn Manufacturer Exposes The Asbestos Blame Game

U.S. Legal Support Announced Robert Tooker as Regional Director of Complex Asbestos Litigation

HOUSTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

U.S. Legal Support Inc., a preeminent provider of full-service court reporting, record retrieval, eDiscovery and trial services, announced Robert Tooker as Regional Director of Complex Asbestos Litigation.

Rob Tooker, an expert in complex asbestos litigation, has over 25 years of experience in asbestos matters. He brings to the role years of experience running the boutique court reporting agency Tooker and Antz, focused on asbestos litigation. Tooker provides a strong understanding of the special requirements and characteristics within asbestos litigation.

“Rob brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise as the Regional Director of Complex Asbestos Litigation,“ said Charles F. Schugart, U.S. Legal Support President & CEO. “His client-first focus and expertise make him an ideal fit to lead asbestos litigation at U.S. Legal Support.”

U.S. Legal Support’s reporters, available throughout the United States, have reported over 15,000 asbestos depositions. They are experts in unique asbestos technology, specializing in all matters of asbestos including, mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, interstitial fibrosis, pleural plaques and wrongful death.

Their service offering includes:

• Video services available throughout the United States

• Day-in-the-life video

• Asbestos calendar team

• Asbestos production team

• Asbestos billing options

• Split billing of originals

• Conference call set-up

• Expert deposition by phone

• Nationwide set-up of large conference rooms

• Asbestos database of over 15,000 transcripts (Available in 2015)

For more information contact Robert Tooker, Regional Director of Complex Asbestos Litigation, at rtooker@uslegalsupport.com.

About U.S. Legal Support

U.S. Legal Support, Inc., founded in 1996, is a privately held company with over 60 offices located across the United States. As one of the leading providers of litigation services, they are the only litigation support company that provides court reporting, record retrieval, eDiscovery and trial services to major corporations and law firms nationwide. www.uslegalsupport.com

Contact:

U.S. Legal Support Inc.

Melissa Delgadillo

800.567.8757


mdelgadillo@uslegalsupport.com

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U.S. Legal Support Announced Robert Tooker as Regional Director of Complex Asbestos Litigation

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

U.S. Chamber Commends House Judiciary Committee Hearing on Asbestos Trust Transparency Legislation

WASHINGTON–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal
Reform (ILR), made the following statement regarding today’s hearing on
the “Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2015” (H.R.
526) in the U.S. House Judiciary Committee. The legislation would
require asbestos personal injury settlement trusts, which currently
operate with little oversight and transparency, to report on their
claims.

“We applaud Representatives Blake Farenthold and Tom Marino for
introducing this legislation, and the House Judiciary Committee for
holding today’s hearing. Abuse of the asbestos compensation system is a
national problem, and the recent indictment in New York with allegations
of kickbacks and self-dealing is just the latest example. Evidence of
plaintiffs’ lawyers manipulating and withholding key information
continues to unfold in the Garlock bankruptcy case, which stands
out as ‘exhibit A’ of the systemic fraud in asbestos litigation.

“Exploitation of the system drains the funds available to deserving
claimants and forces solvent companies, as well as their shareholders
and employees, to pay more than their fair share when claimants ‘double
dip’ in court and in the trust systems. The FACT Act would diminish the
damaging economic ripple effect of these abuses, without impacting
legitimate asbestos claims.”

ILR seeks to promote civil justice reform through legislative,
political, judicial, and educational activities at the national, state,
and local levels.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation
representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all
sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and
industry associations.

www.uschamber.com

         

@USChamber

         

www.freeenterprise.com

Contact:

U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform (ILR)

Justin Hakes, 202-463-3156

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U.S. Chamber Commends House Judiciary Committee Hearing on Asbestos Trust Transparency Legislation

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)

Source article:

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

Families of tragic Aston University workers win cancer payout

Aston University has
awarded compensation to the families of two former workers who died after contracting asbestos-related cancer.

Valerie White and Robert Burns both worked in the Biological Sciences department at the university in the 1960s, 70s and 80s where the pipes in the basement were lagged with the killer dust.

Asbestos insulation boards were cut up on site whilst Mr Burns, who died aged 75, was present.

The dad-of-two worked as a research laboratory technician and had relocated to Cockermouth, in Cumbria, where he died in September 2010 from Mesothelioma, a cancer in the lining of the lung caused by exposure to asbestos.

Mrs White, a former secretary from Wylde Green, Sutton Coldfield, also contracted the disease and died in October, 2009, aged just 52.

Both victims’ families launched legal action through Birmingham-based solicitors Irwin Mitchell, who secured an undisclosed payout.

Mrs White’s widower Christopher, 61, said: “Valerie’s illness came as such as shock to us and it was heart breaking to see her in pain and watch her strength slowly deteriorate at such a young age, knowing that ultimately there was no cure to the disease.

“Since Valerie died we have been determined to secure justice for her death and we are relieved that our legal team’s persistence paid off having now secured a settlement from Aston University.

“We hope that this will act as a reminder to employers to protect their workers from exposure to asbestos, so other families do not have to watch their loved ones endure so much pain and suffering.”

Jane was married to Robert for 42 years and met him when they both worked in the Biological Sciences department at Aston University. She said: “It was devastating to watch my husband go through so much pain in the final years of his life.

“The fact that he became so ill just from going to work every day is still hard to accept. I am at a complete loss since the death of my soul-mate, which has left a void in my life that has not eased with the passing of time.

“The last four years since Bob’s death have been a terrible ordeal and I am very glad that the case is now over and the university have had to pay for the suffering they caused, although no amount of money can make up for Bob’s suffering or my loss.

“Our daughters and grandchildren miss him as I do and he will never be replaced in their hearts or mine.”

An Aston University spokesman said: “We are pleased that a settlement has now been reached on these two cases, which relate to an earlier chapter in the history of the university.”

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Families of tragic Aston University workers win cancer payout

Judge To Open Files Supporting Garlock Asbestos Fraud Claims Next Week

A long-secret trove of court filings that bankrupt gasket maker Garlock Sealing Technologies says illustrate a pattern of fraud in asbestos litigation is expected to be opened to public view next next week, possibly as soon as Monday.

The files, Garlock says, will show how plaintiff lawyers withheld evidence their clients were exposed to multiple asbestos products in order to extract higher settlements and court verdicts from Garlock. In one case that generated a $37 million verdict in California, Garlock says, a lawyer with prominent Dallas asbestos firm Waters Waters & Kraus flatly denied exposure to dangerous insulation that his client had already admitted, under penalty of perjury, in another proceeding.

The records in racketeering lawsuits Garlock filed against several asbestos law firms are to be unsealed after a fierce battle by plaintiff lawyers to keep them secret. In January, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge George Hodges in Charlotte, North Carolina slashed Garlock’s estimated liability for asbestos exposure from $1.4 billion to $125 million after determining that the higher estimates were based upon court cases “infected by the manipulation of exposure evidence by plaintiffs and their lawyers.” In a pattern long known to defense attorneys, plaintiff lawyers coach their clients to “remember” working with only products made by the company they are suing, then file claims with bankruptcy trusts alleging other exposures.

Plaintiff lawyers argued unsealing the records would violate the privacy rights of their clients, even though they largely consist of public court filings. Hodges initially went along with them, and even sealed part of Garlock’s bankruptcy proceedings from the public. But a federal judge sided with Legal Newsline on its First Amendment challenge and ordered the files opened in July.

Hodges agreed to open the entire record in October, in a move that could help other manufacturers and insurance companies including Ford, VW and Aetna Aetna as they try to recover money they’ve paid out to plaintiffs who made duplicative and often conflicting claims about their asbestos exposure. As early as December, the public will have access to records covering more than 100,000 people who filed claims against Garlock as well as hundreds of thousands more who filed claims against nearly every trust set up to process claims against companies forced into bankruptcy over asbestos.

Those files are being redacted now to remove confidential information, although they will retain the last four digits of the claimants’ Social Security numbers so claims can be quickly matched up to uncover evidence of double-dipping and conflicting claims.

In a filing this week contesting plaintiff lawyers’ attempt to reopen the bankruptcy case, Garlock offered a preview of what the public will be able to see as soon as Monday. According to that filing, lawyers at Waters & Kraus won a $36.7 million jury verdict in 2004 after Navy veteran Robert Treggett testified that he was exposed to the asbestos in Garlock gaskets, but not the asbestos in Unibestos pipe insulation, which experts say is a hundreds of times more potent cause of mesothelioma.

His attorney, Ron C. Eddins, also told the jury it was “not true” that Unibestos was on the ship he worked on, even though Treggett had filed a bankruptcy claim under penalty of perjury saying he’d been exposed to Unibestos. That verdict induced Garlock to enter an agreement to settle claims with Waters & Kraus under an annual “cap” of payouts and was among the verdicts plaintiff lawyers cited in their claim that Garlock owed more than $1 billion in bankruptcy. Garlock says it could have won the suit, or been assessed with much less liability, if it had known about the Unibestos evidence.

Source:

Judge To Open Files Supporting Garlock Asbestos Fraud Claims Next Week

If You Have Been Injured by Asbestos, Please Read this Notice of Voting Rights.

WILMINGTON, Del. , Oct. 27, 2014 /CNW/ — The following statement is being issued regarding the In re Specialty Products Holding Corp. matter (Case No. 10-11780 (PJW) (Bankr. D. Del. 2010).

A Joint Plan of Reorganization (“Plan”) has been filed to reorganize Specialty Products Holding Corp. (formerly known as RPM, Inc.), Bondex International, Inc., Republic Powdered Metals, Inc., and NMBFiL, Inc. (formerly known as Bondo Corporation) (collectively, “Debtors”) in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware (“Bankruptcy Court”). 

Persons or entities with asbestos related personal injury claims against any of the Debtors may vote to accept or reject the Plan by December 2 , 2014. 

A detailed document describing the Plan, called the Disclosure Statement, was approved by the Bankruptcy Court on October 20 , 2014.  The Disclosure Statement, a copy of the Plan itself and voting materials have been sent to known holders of asbestos related personal injury claims against the Debtors or to their lawyers. 

Important Plan Provisions Regarding Asbestos Related Claims

The Plan proposes establishing a trust to resolve all asbestos personal injury claims against the Debtors.  Persons and entities with asbestos personal injury or related claims will be forever barred from asserting their claims against the Debtors or other parties specified in the Plan. If the Plan is approved by the Court, all current and future holders of asbestos personal injury claims against the Debtors can request and receive money only from the trust.  You should read the Plan and Disclosure Statement carefully for details about how the Plan, if approved, will affect your rights.

Voting Procedures

The Bankruptcy Court has issued an order describing how to vote on the Plan and the Disclosure Statement contains information that will help you decide how to vote.  Your legal rights will be affected if the Plan is approved.  For a vote to be counted, a ballot must be received at the address indicated on the ballot form by 5:00 p.m., Eastern time , on December 2, 2014 .

Under the procedures approved by the Bankruptcy Court, lawyers for holders of asbestos claims may vote on the Plan on behalf of their clients, if authorized by the client.  If you are unsure whether your lawyer is authorized to vote on your behalf, please contact your lawyer.

How to Obtain Documents

Copies of the Disclosure Statement, which includes the Plan, the voting materials, and the notice of the hearing to consider confirmation of the Plan may be obtained by visiting the following websites:  www.deb.uscourts.gov and www.loganandco.com.  You may also obtain copies of these documents by sending a request, in writing, to Logan & Company, Inc., 546 Valley Road, Upper Montclair, NJ 07043 (Attn:SPHC Voting Department) or by calling 1-866-692-2119.

Confirmation Hearing

A hearing to consider confirmation of the Plan has been scheduled for December 10, 2014 at 3:30 pm ET in Courtroom 4B at the United States District Court for the District of Delaware , J. Caleb Boggs Federal Building, located at 844 North King Street, 4th Floor, Wilmington, Delaware 19801. You may attend the Hearing but are not required to do so.

Objecting to the Plan

If you want to object to the Plan, you must file and serve a written objection on or before 5:00 p.m. ET , on December 2, 2014 .  All objections must comply with the requirements in the notice of the Confirmation Hearing.

For more information and to obtain a copy of the Plan, Disclosure Statement and Voting Materials,

Visit:  www.deb.uscourts.gov OR www.loganandco.com.

Write: Logan & Company, Inc., 546 Valley Road,

Upper Montclair, NJ 07043

(Attn:SPHC Voting Department)

Call:  1-866-692-2119

To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/if-you-have-been-injured-by-asbestos-please-read-this-notice-of-voting-rights-531684759.html

SOURCE GCG

Contact:

Dan Prieto, Jones Day, 1.214.969.4515

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If You Have Been Injured by Asbestos, Please Read this Notice of Voting Rights.

Asbestos victims win damages ruling

Continue at source:

Asbestos victims win damages ruling

Travelers ordered to pay over $500 mln in asbestos case

(Adds Travelers, lawyer’s comments)

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK, July 22 (Reuters) – A federal appeals court ordered Travelers Cos Inc to pay more than $500 million to thousands of asbestos victims in a case stemming from the insurer’s coverage of Johns-Manville Corp, an insulation maker that spent six years in bankruptcy during the 1980s.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York reversed a February 2012 ruling in which U.S. District Judge John Koeltl said conditions under three settlement agreements in 2004 that required Travelers to make the payment had not been satisfied.

Writing for a three-judge appeals court panel on Tuesday, Circuit Judge Ralph Winter said Koeltl’s interpretation “could not reasonably have been intended by the parties, whatever Travelers’ private hopes and dreams, and is not supported by the language of the agreements.”

The 2nd Circuit ordered the reinstatement of a 2011 ruling by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Burton Lifland, who oversaw Johns-Manville’s bankruptcy, that Travelers make payments required under the 2004 agreements, plus $65 million of interest. Koeltl had reversed that ruling. Lifland died in January.

Patrick Linehan, a Travelers spokesman, said the insurer is reviewing Tuesday’s decision, and has set aside reserves to cover the entire payout, apart from interest payments.

Many companies had stopped using asbestos for fireproofing and insulation by the mid-1970s after it was linked to cancer and other diseases. Litigation persists because the effects of exposure can take decades to surface.

Now owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc , Johns-Manville had from the 1920s to 1970s been the largest U.S. maker of products containing asbestos.

It filed for bankruptcy protection in 1982 under the weight of asbestos litigation, and settled various claims in 1986. Johns-Manville emerged from Chapter 11 in 1988.

The 2nd Circuit rejected Travelers’ contention that it need not pay claimants in light of a June 2009 U.S. Supreme Court decision that limited claims against the insurer, and a separate decision by the 2nd Circuit the following March. It also said Travelers had waived potential objections to the payment.

“Obviously, we’re gratified,” said Ronald Barliant, a partner at Goldberg Kohn in Chicago who represents about 1,600 claimants. “Payments should have been made five years ago.”

Sander Esserman, a partner at Stutzman, Bromberg, Esserman & Plifka in Dallas representing other claimants, said he looks forward to Travelers “paying the thousands of plaintiffs who are owed money.”

Paul Clement, a partner at Bancroft PLLC who represents other claimants, was not immediately available for comment.

The 2nd Circuit heard oral arguments in January 2013.

Separately, Travelers on Tuesday posted a larger-than-expected 26 percent drop in second-quarter profit, as hail and windstorms boosted catastrophe-related losses. Its shares fell as much as 5.1 percent by early afternoon.

The case is Common Law Settlement Counsel et al v. Travelers Indemnity Co et al, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Nos. 12-1094, 12-1140 and 12-1205.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli, Lisa Von Ahn and Tom Brown)

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Travelers ordered to pay over $500 mln in asbestos case