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Federal Bankruptcy Judge Reaffirms Landmark Asbestos Decision


A federal bankruptcy judge in Charlotte on Thursday reaffirmed his landmark decision in the murky world of asbestos litigation. Judge George Hodges ruled against a request by asbestos plaintiffs to reopen the record that led to his decision in favor of a bankrupt gasket maker called Garlock.

In January, Judge Hodges ruled that Garlock's past settlement history was "infected with the impropriety of some law firms." He laid out how asbestos plaintiffs lawyers misled courts and made evidence disappear in old cases.

The plaintiffs' lawyers fired back this summer, saying Garlock's lawyers tricked Judge Hodges by withholding their own evidence.

In a Charlotte courtroom Thursday, Hodges said that argument does not hold up. In denying the plaintiffs' motion to reopen the record, Hodges said they failed to show that Garlock committed any misconduct, and beyond that, they presented no new evidence that matters.

Hodges stuck to his earlier estimate that Garlock still owes asbestos victims $125 million. That's about $1 billion less than the asbestos plaintiffs expected.