Asbestos lawyers will be named as trial settles allegations of ‘rampant fraud’
ERIE, Pa. (Legal Newsline) – Asbestos lawyers have dropped their request to keep firm names out of evidence in a trial that will determine whether they’ve been allowed to ransack a bankruptcy trust set up to compensate victims.
A trust advisory committee made up of six asbestos plaintiffs lawyers on May 3 told a Pennsylvania bankruptcy judge it will be OK if law firms are identified by name when the trial begins later this month.
Honeywell International, which funds the NARCO asbestos trust, says lawyers are taking millions of dollars while avoiding any questioning of their claims. It says the request to keep secret the names of law firms making money off of the trust is “at odds” with laws governing sealed information in bankruptcy proceedings.
As the trial approaches, the TAC claimed Honeywell wants to paint the firms submitting claims in a bad light and motioned to avoid the naming of firms. May 3’s notice says the TAC and the Future Claims Representative still want to preserve the redaction of individual claimant information.
“While the TAC and FCR believe that the relief sought in the Motion is appropriate, the TAC and FCR have determined that withdrawal of that portion of the Motion seeking redaction of law firm identifying information is in keeping with the Parties’ efforts to focus on the specific matters at issue in these proceedings,” the notice says.
The NARCO trust is one of dozens filed by companies brought to their knees by the costs of litigating asbestos cases in civil court. Establishing trusts allowed claimants and companies alike to avoid expensive discovery and trials, while also eliminating the possibility of jackpot verdicts.
But Honeywell says the NARCO trust is too free with the money set aside for asbestos victims. It says, despite an agreement not to do so years ago, it has only required simple form affidavits from asbestos lawyers.
This is in violation of the Trust Distribution Procedures, the company said in its pre-trial brief.
“Boilerplate ‘form’ affidavits are not competent or credible evidence of exposure sufficient to meet the criteria set forth in the TDP.”
A subpoena targeted Maryland asbestos lawyer Peter Nicholl, who has earned more than $85 million for his clients from the NARCO trust, Honeywell says. The company wanted documents regarding more than 1,600 of Nicholl’s clients.
Nicholl’s clients are remarkable for their pristine memory of NARCO products at their worksites decades earlier, the company claims. It thinks he fills in the blanks for them, then files requests for compensation with the NARCO trust that are rubber-stamped.
Since the trust began accepting forms again, Nicholl has made $46 million in two years, Honeywell says. The company’s litigation filed in September seeks to end the acceptance of those forms.
Honeywell says the trust has adopted a “refractory inference,” which allows it to infer exposure to NARCO products if the claimant shows exposure to generic refractory products.
Insurers allowed to intervene in the case noted last week that the TAC is comprised of members of six asbestos firms – Baron & Budd; Cooney & Conway; Kazan, McClain, Satterley & Greenwood; Goldberg, Persky & White; Motley Rice; and Weitz & Luxenberg.
They pointed to a ruling for transparency that resulted from Legal Newsline’s court fight in the Garlock Sealing Technologies’ bankruptcy. Legal Newsline was first not allowed in the courtroom before mounting a legal challenge that allowed public access to Garlock’s evidence of double-dipping by asbestos firms.
“A lack of transparency in the tort system and in the post-confirmation trusts established to pay asbestos claims has allowed certain counsel to file claims in multiple venues making inconsistent representations regarding the products to which claimants were exposed,” the insurers wrote.
“As the Garlock court concluded, this practice is ‘widespread and significant.’”
Insurers are still fighting the TAC’s effort to keep claimants’ info private, writing “this case includes allegations of rampant fraud in the asbestos trust and tort system, improper conduct of plaintiff lawyers, and lawyers engaging in nefarious behavior. Those claims, and the propriety thereof, go to the central concerns in this case and concern matters of public interest.”
Let’s ensure a list of those involved in the NARCO Fraud are “outed”…
- Jared Garelick – CRMC Attorney – Oversees Fraudulent NARCO Claims – Pays out Trust Funds like a “bottomless ATM”
- Melissa Mackey – CRMC Director – Works closely with Garelick to ensure disparate treatment and fraud takes place at the NARCO Trust.
- Ann McMillan – NARCO Trustee Attorney – Has engaged in “insider dealing” and fraud for at least 25 years. A central figure in the misappropriation of BILLIONS in Trust Funds.
- Steven Kazan – NARCO Trust Advisory Committee Member – Has misappropriated BILLIONS of dollars from Asbestos Trusts. NARCO is just one of 30 Trusts he’s engaged in the same theft…
- Former Judge Ken Kawaichi – NARCO Trustee – This is Kazan’s hand picked fraudster who acts as “Trustee” for the NARCO Trust (while collecting over $500,000.00 per year (!) to commit fraud. Corrupt former Judge who was Kazan’s local Judge on Asbestos cases. After many favorable rulings (bribery?) for Kazan, Kazan (in a quid pro quo deal) placed Kawaichi in this highly paid Trustee position (on other Trusts too)! This is a violation of the Department of Justice Rules…