Asbestos litigation has been ongoing for years and has become contentious as more and more people fall ill because of exposure to asbestos and as more companies are driven into insolvency when they are unable to pay victims’ claims. Because of the ongoing legal controversies, some companies have taken a more aggressive approach to protecting their balance sheets and fighting asbestos plaintiffs seeking monetary damages.
As the Democrat & Chronicle Reports, one particular company is fighting to obtain information about asbestos plaintiffs to determine the extent of the company’s actual responsibility for damages. The fight spearheaded by this company is becoming more heated and others are joining in. The controversy underscores the importance of hiring an experienced Boston mesothelioma lawyer to ensure that you take the right legal steps to make a legitimate case so you right to damages does not come under attack.
Companies Seeking More Information About Asbestos Victims
The company leading the fight for more information about asbestos plaintiffs is Garlock Sealing Technologies, LLC. More than $1 billion in claims was made against Garlock, which had used asbestos products in gaskets the company manufactured. However, a federal bankruptcy judge determined that this was a significant overstatement of Garlock’s liability and that the company would at most have to pay an additional $125 million to settle current and future cases.
The bankruptcy judge made the ruling because he believed that the legal system had been “infected by the manipulation of exposure evidence.” The alleged problem is that some plaintiffs are making claims against Garlock (and other manufacturers) even after already recovering money for asbestos exposure from other manufacturers.
Garlock had settled 15 cases related to asbestos at the time of the ruling and the company claims it showed that proper evidence of exposure was withheld in each case. Because court information related to asbestos claims is tightly sealed and accessible only with court approval, it was difficult for Garlock to get to the bottom of whether claims against it were legitimate.
In response to the issue, the company sought to obtain documents and evidence about asbestos cases. Now, other companies including Ford and Honeywell are also seeking access.
The problem, of course, is that much of the sealed information is the private health information of people who have been victimized already. Releasing this information could be unfair to plaintiffs and the breach of privacy may not be justified by the company’s complaints.
While it is undoubtedly true that there is at least some fraud in asbestos claims as is alleged, there is no legitimate reason to suspect that most asbestos victims were dishonest. Illness generally occurs decades after exposure, so plaintiffs can face difficulties determining what manufacturers were responsible for their losses. Not only that, but there are many asbestos claims not because of fraud but instead because millions of people were exposed before asbestos use was limited.
Before any type of change is made to make it easier for companies to get access to private data, it is essential to understand the true cost of such a decision in terms of victim privacy.
Call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.
More Blog Entries
Low Levels of Asbestos Exposure Can Cause Mesothelioma, Jan. 2, 2014, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyer Blog