Friday, February 13, 2009

Court Certifies Class, Gives Preliminary OK to Settlement of Asbestos Litigation

Per BNA's Class Action Litigation Report, 10 CLASS 112, Feb. 13, 2009:

The U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware Jan. 16 certified a settlement class of more than 16,000 homeowners who sued specialty chemical manufacturer W.R. Grace & Co. in asbestos-related lawsuits (In re W.R. Grace & Co., Bankr. D. Del., No. 01-01139 (JKF), 1/16/09).
Judge Judith K. Fitzgerald ruled that in light of the circumstances of this case, the difficulties encountered and likely to be encountered in further prosecution of the claims, the scientific and other controversies surrounding the case, and the difficulties of proof, the proposed settlement is “well within the range of possible approval and should be submitted to the Class for comment.”

. . .

Judge Fitzgerald concluded that the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 and Federal Rule of Bankruptcy Procedure 7023 had been met for certification of the proposed U.S. ZAI class. According to the court, the class members are predominately individual residential property owners with claims of modest economic value. Questions common to the class include the extent of asbestos contamination in ZAI, the risks posed by asbestos contamination of ZAI, and whether the debtors' ZAI marketing and sales practices could result in liability to class members.

Fitzgerald determined that the class representatives were typical of the claims of the class and, thus, appointed Marco Barbanti and Ralph Busch as class representatives.

The court also determined that the class action is a “superior method for fairly and efficiently adjudicating this controversy.” According to the court, class treatment “offers significant judicial efficiencies.

BNA subscribers may access the full article by clicking here.


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