CHARLOTTE, N.C.—Garlock Sealing Technologies has agreed to postpone an Asbestos Claims Resolution Process hearing, scheduled for Jan. 6, until late February.
A subsidiary of EnPro Industries Inc., GST reached the agreement with the court-appointed legal representative of future asbestos claimants and a committee representing current claimants to delay the hearing pending in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of North Carolina.
GST also requested similar deferrals of other court calendared events—including the confirmation hearing on GST's second amended plan of reorganization originally scheduled for June 2016— related to the ACRP.
It said the bankruptcy court has approved the postponement of the hearing date to a date to be set by the court.
The delays were requested after the representative of the future asbestos claim claimants and the current claimants committee advised GST that they have hare negotiating to resolve the terms co claims resolution procedures that would be an integral part of any potential consensual settlement of the ACRP and requested the postponement to continue those talks and to include GST in the sessions, the company said.
GST said it agreed to the request because it continues to believe that a settlement with both the future and current claimants would provide the best path to finalize the ACRP, save significant costs, and lead to faster completion of the case.
However, the company cautioned, there's no assurance that the negotiations will result in a settlement, noting that prior negotiations have not resulted in an agreement acceptable to all parties involved.
GST has been dealing with thousands of asbestos claims for more than a decade. It previously produced gaskets, valves, pipe joints and other items that contained non-friable asbestos encapsulated in the products. The firm stopped making them in the U.S. in 2000 and in Mexico in 2001.
Although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has said non-friable asbestos isn't likely to release asbestos fibers into the air, the company still faced claims charging exposure to asbestos in gasket sealing products over a 35-year period.
GST said it has processed hundreds of thousands of asbestos claims to conclusion—including judgments, settlements and dismissals. It has shelled out in excess of at least $1 billion in settlements, judgments, fees and expenses.