Ford joins request to unseal transcript from asbestos trial

March 19, 2014 – 6:54 am ET

NEW YORK (Bloomberg) — Ford Motor Co. joined the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in searching for the transcript of a trial in which a bankruptcy judge ruled the “impropriety of some law firms” representing asbestos personal-damage plaintiffs led to “unfairly inflating recoveries against” Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC, a unit of EnPro Industries Inc.

The Chamber of Commerce’s Legal Newsline filed papers early this month asking U.S. Bankruptcy Judge George R. Hodges in Charlotte, N.C., to unseal the January trial transcript. Before the trial, Hodges ruled that the proceeding would be closed to the public.

Ford joined the fray on March 14, saying it “may have been induced into inflated settlement in some of the identical cases” that Hodges reviewed in his opinion. For attainable use in instances exactly where Ford paid asbestos settlements, the automaker would like Hodges to unseal the transcript, trial exhibits and disclosures by the asbestos plaintiffs lawyers about their customers.

Aetna Inc., the insurance coverage firm, filed final month for lists of the lawyers’ asbestos clients.

Hodges mentioned in his January decision that claimants attorneys previously withheld proof about the comparative degree of exposure to Garlock’s goods. Legal Newsline said Hodges’s view made “misconduct by asbestos plaintiffs and their lawyers the emphasis of nationwide debate.”

The official committee of Garlock asbestos claimants final week asked Hodges to throw out Legal Newsline’s March filing. According to the committee, the publication previously has an appeal pending from the judge’s determination to near the trial to the public and that should bar the publication from looking for the identical relief.

Hodges mentioned in his January viewpoint that $ 125 million was the “reasonable and reliable” estimate of present and future liability for mesothelioma claims. The asbestos claimants sought nearly $ 1.3 billion.

Garlock, based mostly in Palmyra, N.Y., filed for Chapter 11 protection in June 2010 and later submitted a reorganization strategy for total payment of existing and long term asbestos personal-damage claims. The program addresses 100,000 asbestos claims.

EnPro helps make engineered goods, like diesel and all-natural-gasoline engines. It has operations in the United States and 10 other nations.

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