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Gasket manufacturers agree to $480 million settlement

One of the most intensely-litigated asbestos cases in North Carolina in the last few years has involved the Garlock Sealing Technologies. The case may now be nearing an end because Garlock's parent company, EnPro Industries, Inc., a Charlotte-based manufacturing conglomerate, has agreed to pay $480 million to establish a trust to pay all present and future claims based on exposure to asbestos-containing products manufactured by Garlock.

Garlock has been fighting asbestos lawsuits for forty years. Virtually all of the cases were based upon exposure to asbestos fibers in gaskets and similar products made by Garlock. Asbestos causes a number of respiratory diseases, including lung cancer, asbestosis and an especially virulent form of cancer known as mesothelioma. The costs of fighting and settling claims forced Garlock to declare bankruptcy in 2010. Garlock's bankruptcy has been supervised by the United States Bankruptcy Court in Charlotte, and the claims against the company are being supervised by the United States District Court in Charlotte.

The parties to the settlement are EnPro, Garlock, Coltec Industries, Inc., a company owned by EnPro that in turn owns Garlock, and a court-appointed representative of the claimants. Both Garlock and Coltec have been the object of claims for damages relating to asbestos exposure. EnPro will pay $400 million into the trust upon its approval by the various parties and an additional $80 million upon the first anniversary of the trust agreement's approval. EnPro will be able to deduct the payments when calculating its federal corporate income tax (a savings of approximately $196 million). The settlement is subject to approval by the claimants, Garlock's bankruptcy court, and the United States District Court in Charlotte.

Anyone who believes that he or she has been exposed to asbestos fibers in a product manufactured by Garlock will be well-served by consulting a lawyer who specializes in handling asbestos claims. An experienced attorney can analyze the facts of the case, provide advice on filing a claim with the trust and estimate the likelihood of recovering damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering and lost income.

Source: Charlotte Observer, "EnPro Industries reaches $480M settlement on asbestos claims," Rick Rothacker, March 18, 2016

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