CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Chalk one up for Garlock Sealing Technologies L.L.C. and parent EnPro Industries Inc.
They walked away as the initial victors in a court battle over asbestos-related mesothelioma liability claims Jan. 10 when a federal bankruptcy court judge estimated Garlock's liability to cover current and future mesothelioma claims against the company at $125 million.
The plaintiffs' lawyers were seeking around $1 billion to $1.3 billion. They could not be reached for comment but are expected to appeal the ruling.
Garlock officials said the estimate of $125 million is consistent with the positions the firm put forth at trial.
Judge George Hodges of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of North Carolina also criticized some of the claimants' law firms, maintaining they withheld evidence about plaintiffs' exposure to other asbestos products during court hearings, controlling the evidence to drive up Garlock's settlements for mesothelioma over a 10-year stretch.
Garlock sued four law firms charging them with fraud a few days before Hodges made his ruling.
In the company's lawsuit, it claims that the law firms concealed evidence about their clients' exposure to asbestos products, alleging their clients already had made conflicting claims about exposure to asbestos against other businesses.
Named in the suit were Belluck & Fox and Shein Law Center, both based in Philadelphia, and Waters & Krause and Simon Greenstone of Dallas.