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The continuing battle over documentary evidence in the Garlock Sealing Technologies, LLC bankruptcy took another turn in North Carolina bankruptcy court. Several weeks ago, the bankruptcy judge ruled that a committee of plaintiffs’ attorneys willfully hid evidence showing that many claims for asbestos victims had been inflated. Relying on this evidence, the judge reduced Garlock’s obligation to the plaintiffs from $1.25 billion to $125 million. Now, the plaintiffs’ lawyers are claiming that Garlock willfully suppressed evidence that officials long had knowledge of the carcinogenic effects of asbestos.
In a hearing last week before U. S. Bankruptcy Judge George Hodges, the court-appointed committee of plaintiffs’ attorneys argued that the company’s own evasions were the major reason behind the court’s decision to cut the amount of damages by 90 percent. The lawyers argued that Garlock possessed large amount of evidence concerning the plaintiffs’ exposure to asbestos-containing products that it failed to present to the court.
Perhaps the central issue in each of these cases for the plaintiffs is when and the extent to which officers and employees of the defendant companies possessed scientific proof that asbestos causes asbestos and several forms of lung cancer, including the inevitably fatal mesothelioma. From the defendants’ perspective, the date of diagnosis, the nature of asbestos exposure and the seriousness of the disease present possible avenues of defense.
The United States legal system provides a number of remedies for persons who have contracted lung cancer or other diseases caused by exposure to asbestos fibers. As demonstrated by the continuing battle over the documentary evidence in the possession of one such defendant, any person contemplating making such a claim need to get the best information about the litigation possibilities and the evidentiary issues that it involves.
Source: democratandchronicle.com, “Asbestos lawyers accuse Garlock of coverup,” Matthew Daneman, June 10, 2014
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