According to a recently unsealed database outlining a sample of what asbestos plaintiffs have been awarded in the court and trust systems, Madison County claimants account for roughly 20 percent of the total payouts.
The document shows that approximately $517 million has been awarded to approximately 850 claimants who have made claims against Garlock Sealing Technologies. Of those claimants, 129 of them are Madison County asbestos plaintiffs who have so far received a total of $112.9 million in compensation - for an average recovery of around $875,000 apiece, according to the database.
The database, which was recently made public in Garlock's bankruptcy proceeding, lists names of claimants, their lawyers, how much they got from bankruptcy trusts and how much they got from “non-trust” entities such as solvent companies, among other things.
Approximately nine law firms listed in the database represent plaintiffs who had lawsuits filed in Madison County.
Claimants in Garlock bankruptcy with Madison County lawsuits
The Simmons firm represents 75 clients who had claims against Garlock. Of those, the firm had the most Madison County lawsuits among the nine firms with 38 cases. Simmons' 38 clients were awarded a total of $30.6 million - $21.7 million in Madison County courtrooms and $8.9 million from bankruptcy trusts.
The Lanier Law Firm had 37 cases filed in Madison County. Those claimants received a total of $28.9 million - $18.4 million from Madison County courtrooms and $10.5 million from bankruptcy trusts.
Overall, the Lanier Law Firm had the most clients listed in the database at 126.
Gori Julian & Associates had 28 of 43 asbestos lawsuits in Madison County, in which claimants received a total of $29.9 million - $12.5 million from Madison County courtrooms and $17.4 million from bankruptcy trusts.
Goldenberg, Heller, Antognoli & Rowland filed 11 of 16 cases in Madison County, according to the database. The firm’s local cases received about $5.6 million - $1.9 million from Madison County courtrooms and $3.7 million from bankruptcy trusts.
Richardson, Patrick, Westrbook and Brickman documented seven of its 11 cases in Madison County. Claimants were awarded approximately $4.7 million - $1.2 million from Madison County courtrooms and $3.5 million from bankruptcy trusts.
Shrader & Associates had four of its six lawsuits filed in Madison County cases. Claimants were awarded roughly $10.2 million – more than $9.4 million from Madison County courtrooms and $779,806 from bankruptcy trusts
Saville & Flint had two of its five cases filed in Madison County. Claimants were awarded more than $3 million – roughly $2.6 million from Madison County courtrooms and $465,744 from bankruptcy trusts.
Korein Tillery had two asbestos cases listed in the database, only one of which had a suit filed in Madison County. However, no award information was provided.
Similarly, Lakin & Herndon had one case included in the database, which was filed in Madison County, but no award information was provided.
A look at the firms with cases filed in Madison County and their awards reveals:
- Simmons filed about 30 percent of the cases and earned about 27 percent of the payouts.
- Lanier filed about 29 percent of the cases and earned about 26 percent of the payouts.
- Gori filed about 22 percent of the cases and earned about 26 percent of the payouts.
- Goldenberg filed about 9 percent of the cases and earned about 5 percent of the payouts.
- Richardson filed about 5 percent of the cases and earned about 4 percent of the payouts.
- Shrader filed about 3 percent of the cases and earned about 9 percent of the payouts.
- Saville filed about 2 percent of the cases and earned about 3 percent of the payouts.
While Shrader was one of the firms with the smallest number of cases examined in the database, its payouts were consistently large in Madison County. In fact, all but two of its litigants recorded an award exceeding $1 million in court, and those two missed the mark by less than $20,000.
For example, Simone Mulligan, of Kentucky, filed her complaint in April 2007. She claims she developed mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure while working as a mail carrier and a press operator at a laundry facility. She also claims she suffered secondary exposure from her husband, who was an auto mechanic with the U.S. Army. She was awarded $124,760 from four bankruptcy trusts and $1,472,200 from 14 non-trust entities in court.
Of the firm’s six cases documented in the database, three boasted multi-million dollar verdicts exceeding $3 million – the location of one of the cases was unconfirmed.
Edward Roque, of Texas, filed his complaint in Madison County in April 2010. He claims he developed mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure from 1955 to 1997 while working at a research chemical engineer for Shell Oil Company and later as a dentist. He was awarded $56,280 from two bankruptcy trusts and $3,707,680 from 60 non-trust entities in the courtroom. He received the largest award noted from a Madison County courtroom.
Billy R. Hadley, of Arizona, filed his complaint in March 2010. He alleges he developed mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure from 1964 to 1994 while working as a pipefitter. He was awarded $26,250 from one bankruptcy trust and $3,281,680 from 39 non-trust entities in court.
Details for 14 Madison County cases could not be confirmed. The awards in those unconfirmed cases amounted to $7.1 million from courtroom litigation and $3.5 million from bankruptcy trusts.
Identified as the “Supplemental Settlement Payment Spreadsheet,” the database provides details from a sample of 850 of 1,000 randomly selected claimants who responded to a questionnaire requested by economic consulting firm Bates White as part of the discovery process for gasket manufacturer Garlock, a company forced into bankruptcy in 2010 by the weight of asbestos claims litigation.
Those 850 claimants from across the country – representing a small portion of past and current claims – have so far been awarded $334,711,143 in the court system and $182,259,276 from the bankruptcy trust system, for a total of $516,970,419.
The database was made public as part of U.S. Bankruptcy Judge George Hodges’ order unsealing evidence in the Garlock Sealing Technologies bankruptcy ongoing in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina.
Garlock sought bankruptcy protection to escape increasing settlement awards and jury verdicts which it blamed on plaintiff attorneys who were allegedly withholding evidence of other company culpability.
Hodges agreed, finding that the amount of previous awards and settlements paid by Garlock in the civil justice system were not reliable because plaintiffs’ attorneys had withheld evidence of their clients’ exposure to asbestos-containing products manufactured by other companies in order to maximize recovery against Garlock.
Hodges’ order opening the record came after U.S. District Judge Max O. Cogburn Jr. ruled in favor of Legal Newsline and others, concluding that evidence alleging fraud on the part of asbestos attorneys should never have been sealed.
Cogburn, a President Barack Obama-appointee who took the bench in 2011, ruled that sealing documents and witness testimony is the exception, not the rule, to handling confidential information. As a result, he reversed Hodges’ previous denial of the motions seeking access to evidence admitted under seal. After a lengthy redaction process, the record was unsealed this spring.
Editor’s note: This article is part of a series examining evidence submitted in Garlock Sealing Technologies’ bankruptcy proceeding that was recently unsealed as a result of Legal Newsline’s legal challenge. Legal Newsline is an associate publication of the Madison-St. Clair Record.