06/16/2010 // Chicago, IL, USA // Cooney & Conway // Mesothelioma lawyers: Cooney & Conway

Mesothelioma lawyers news report: After processing more than 900,000 asbestos-related claims filed against it—and paying out approximately $1.4 billion in settlements and judgments—Garlock Sealing Technologies of Palmyra, N.Y., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in a North Carolina court on June 5.

All pending asbestos litigation—stemming from the company’s past manufacturing of asbestos-containing parts—will be temporarily halted as Garlock develops a court-approved plan to permanently resolve remaining claims.

A subsidiary of engine maker EnPro Industries Inc, Garlock had become one of the most sued companies in the United States, due to the many thousands of asbestos lawsuits brought against it.

It is the second high-profile asbestos-related bankruptcy in just a week. On May 31, two units of RPM International Inc.—Specialty Products Holding Corp. and Bondex International Inc.—filed for Chapter 11 protection to resolve its outstanding asbestos lawsuits. Litigating and settling asbestos claims has cost the company as much as $82 million a year since 2005.

While the health risks of asbestos have long been known—chief among them, lung cancer and mesothelioma, a nearly always fatal cancer of the protective lining covering many of the body’s internal organs—diseases typically do not develop until many years, and even decades, after asbestos exposure.

So many lawsuits are only being litigated now, as individuals who inhaled or otherwise came in contact with dangerous asbestos particles are getting sick.

While mesothelioma lawyers have had great success obtaining high—and often multimillion-dollar—settlements and judgments against manufacturers, employers, and building owners who knew of the dangers of asbestos but did little, or nothing, to protect those exposed to the material, medical science has made lesser strides, and a asbestos-related diagnosis is usually grim.

In a statement announcing its bankruptcy plan, EnPro says that Garlock will negotiate with representatives of asbestos claimants to establish a trust fund to pay all valid claims. If the parties are unable to negotiate a resolution, Garlock will ask the court to determine the amount necessary to fund the trust, the company said.

In addition to the $1.4 billion in settlements and judgments already paid, Garlock has spent more than $400 million in lawyer and court fees and expenses. In court papers, Garlock listed assets in the $500 million to $1 billion range, and debt in the $100 million to $500 million range.

Founded in 1887, Garlock produces and sells high-performance fluid-sealing products, including gaskets and packing used in internal piping and valve assemblies. It employs approximately 600 workers.

This news story was brought to you by the mesothelioma lawyers at Cooney & Conway. For more than half a century, we have been advocates and champions for those injured because of the negligence or wrongful actions of others. We have litigated, settled, and resolved some of the nation’s most significant asbestos lawsuits, bringing answers—and compensation—to victims of asbestos-related diseases like lung cancer and mesothelioma.



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