Washington federal judge won’t let boiler assembler out of meso case

From Westlaw Journal Asbestos: A federal judge in Tacoma, Wash., has refused to dismiss Fraser’s Boiler Service Inc. from a mesothelioma lawsuit, finding a fact dispute on whether the company and the U.S. Navy failed to warn a Navy seaman about the dangers of asbestos exposure.

“This is significant because of the role Fraser’s Boiler Service played at civilian shipyards in the Seattle in the 1960s and 1970s,” said plaintiff’s attorney Brian F. Ladenburg of Bergman Draper Ladenburg Hart.

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Federal judge finds Tennessee’s post-petition tax ‘penalty’ unconstitutional

From Westlaw Journal Bankruptcy: A federal bankruptcy judge has ruled a Tennessee law that imposed a 6 percent “penalty” on delinquent property taxes cannot be enforced, finding it unconstitutionally circumvents federal bankruptcy law.

In a Feb. 26 opinion U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Randal S. Mashburn of the Middle District of Tennessee held that the 6 percent in additional fees tacked on to the 12 percent interest already being assessed was indeed an impermissible penalty under the U.S. Constitution and federal law.

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Supreme Court hears argument over attorney fee dispute

From Westlaw Journal Bankruptcy: The U.S. Supreme Court heard argument Feb. 25 over whether Asarco LLC must pay the law firm Baker Botts $5 million for defending its initial claim for attorney fees after representing the mining company in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The law firm may be in for “some tough sledding” in trying to recover the fees for defending its fee application, said bankruptcy attorney Michael Fletcher of Frandzel Robins Bloom & Csato, who is not involved in the case.

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Bankruptcy lawyers ask Supreme Court to allow appeals of plan denials

By Ken Bradley, Senior Legal Writer, Westlaw Journals

From Westlaw Journal Bankruptcy: Debtors in Chapter 13 bankruptcies should be allowed to appeal when a court denies confirmation of their payment plans, consumer attorneys say in an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Allowing creditors to appeal confirmation orders while denying debtors the right to appeal the denial of confirmation would systemically disadvantage one set of parties to bankruptcy cases without achieving any significant policy benefits,” the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys says in a Feb. 1 filing.

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Asarco asks Supreme Court to affirm win in attorney fee dispute

From Westlaw Journal Bankruptcy: Asarco LLC, which emerged from bankruptcy following the largest fraudulent-transfer judgment in Chapter 11 history, has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm a ruling that denied its counsel $5 million in compensation they are seeking for defending their initial claim for attorney fees.

The Bankruptcy Code “hardly allow[s] compensation for work that is adverse to the estate and benefits only the professional, at the direct expense of the estate,” the copper mining company says in a Jan. 23 response brief filed with the high court.

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Supreme Court hears argument on bankruptcy judges’ authority

From Westlaw Journal Bankruptcy: The U.S. Supreme Court heard argument Jan. 14 in a case expected to clarify the power of bankruptcy judges to make final judgments in many disputes they regularly rule on.

“Although [it] is a consumer Chapter 7 case, the implications of the court’s decision very well may impact Chapter 11 cases and business bankruptcies, large and small, with equal effect,” said Joseph Sgroi, a partner and leader of the bankruptcy group at Honigman Miller Schwartz & Cohn, who is not involved in the case.

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Washington federal judge keeps Crane, Carrier in meso suit

From Westlaw Journal Asbestos: A federal judge in Seattle has partly denied and partly granted motions by Crane Co. and Carrier Corp. for summary judgment in a lawsuit in which a former Navy sailor alleges he developed mesothelioma from exposure to the defendants’ asbestos-containing products.

Plaintiff Richard Nelson, who served on the USS Kitty Hawk from 1961 to 1964, raised sufficient evidence that he was exposed to the two companies’ products to send the questions to a jury, U.S. District Judge James L. Robart of the Western District of Washington said in a Dec. 9 order.

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Divided 4th Circuit tells judge to rethink jurisdiction issue in meso suit

From Westlaw Journal Asbestos: A split 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, has told a federal judge in Maryland to reconsider his decision to send an asbestos-related personal injury lawsuit against Colgate-Palmolive Co. back to state court.

The lone dissenter said the majority was ordering the judge to “in effect, redo his ‘mid-term exam’ on removal jurisprudence.”

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N.Y.C. property owner asks Supreme Court to revive suit over 9/11 contamination

By Ken Bradley, Senior Legal Writer, Westlaw Journals

From Westlaw Journal Asbestos: The U.S. Supreme Court should review a 2nd Circuit decision that found the owners and lessees of the World Trade Center were immune from an environmental cleanup lawsuit stemming from the Sept. 11 attacks, according to a developer that spent $26 million to remove asbestos and other “WTC dust” from its nearby property.

In a reply brief filed with the high court Nov. 7, Cedar & Washington Associates, which owns a property at 130 Cedar St. in New York, says the appeals court’s decision “threatens to have wide-ranging and profound impacts on issues of national significance ranging from the balance of war power between the executive branch and Congress, to the stability of the insurance and commercial real estate markets.”

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Plaintiffs’ firm blasts unsealing of records in Garlock bankruptcy dispute

By Ken Bradley, Senior Legal Writer, Westlaw Journals

From Westlaw Journal Asbestos: An effort to unseal records related to Garlock Sealing Technologies’ bankruptcy proceeding is “nothing more than a frivolous attempt to discourage victims of asbestos products and their representatives from seeking just compensation,” an attorney for a plaintiffs’ law firm said in a Nov. 3 statement.

Garlock has no one but itself to blame for the bankruptcy, Michael W. Magner of Jones Walker LLP said.  Magner represents Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett, one of the law firms ordered, in related litigation, to release records from lawsuits for asbestos-exposure injuries it filed against Garlock and other companies.

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