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Firm Serves as Equity Holder Counsel in Landmark Asbestos Ruling

February 2014

Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson, P.A., served as lead counsel and Moore & Van Allen PLLC as equity holder counsel, in a closely watched mass tort trial to determine the aggregate responsibility of Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC for present and projected future mesothelioma claims against it. Garlock is a subsidiary of EnPro Industries (EnPro).

In a January 10, 2014 opinion, Judge George Hodges of the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of North Carolina ruled in favor of Garlock, estimating that its liability for present and future mesothelioma claims is $125 million. In so ruling, the Court rejected the position of representatives for asbestos claimants that Garlock’s liability exceeds $1 billion.

Garlock, a manufacturer of gaskets and packing, filed for bankruptcy in June 2010 because of thousands of pending and projected future lawsuits alleging that asbestos in encapsulated sealing products Garlock made decades ago caused them to contract asbestos-related diseases, including mesothelioma, an asbestos-related cancer.  Garlock offered medical experts; industrial hygienists; economists and other experts and witnesses to prove that claimants’ asbestos exposure from Garlock’s products was de minimus and that exposure from other products caused their asbestos diseases. Garlock and Coltec also offered evidence rebutting the position advanced by experts for mesothelioma claimants that hundreds of millions of dollars of settlements Garlock paid to resolve mesothelioma claims prior to its bankruptcy case provided a basis for determining Garlock’s future liability.

In his opinion, which can be seen under the investor relations tab on EnPro’s website, Judge Hodges ruled, “It is clear that Garlock’s products resulted in relatively low exposure to asbestos to a limited population and that its legal responsibility for causing mesothelioma is relatively de minimus.” Judge Hodges continued, “The best evidence of Garlock’s aggregate responsibility is the projection of its legal liability that takes into consideration causation, limited exposure and the contribution of exposures to other products. The court has determined that $125 million is sufficient to satisfy Garlock’s liability for the legitimate present and future mesothelioma claims against it.”

Robinson Bradshaw & Hinson (RBH) and Schachter Harris LLP, a Dallas trial firm, served as Garlock’s trial co-counsel while Moore & Van Allen (MVA) represented Coltec, a direct EnPro subsidiary and sole equity holder of Garlock.   Rayburn Cooper & Durham (RCD), which serves as general bankruptcy counsel for Garlock, provided advice and support throughout the trial.

RBH attorneys participating at trial included Garland S. Cassada; Jonathan C. Krisko; Richard C. Worf, Jr. and D. Blaine Sanders. RBH lawyers also assisting at trial were Louis A. Bledsoe, III; Ty E. Shaffer; David C. Kimball; Stuart L. Pratt; and J. Thomas Clarkson. Satyra Riggins, Elise Deal and Pascal Joseph-Pauline provided paralegal and litigation technology support.

MVA attorneys involved in the trial included:  Litigation Member Mark Nebrig, Bankruptcy Member Hillary Crabtree, and Litigation Associate Taylor Stukes.

RCD attorneys providing trial support were C. Richard Rayburn, Jr. and John R. Miller, Jr.