Leslie Control Valves Litigation and Asbestos Lawsuit
The widespread use of asbestos — and the devastation it caused — led to thousands of lawsuits against Leslie from both those who worked directly for the company in manufacturing and from those who worked with the products it sold.
Leslie filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2010, citing as the primary reason the 1,307 asbestos personal injury claims that were pending at the time. According to court papers, a majority of those claims stemmed from the use of asbestos on U.S. Navy ships from 1940 through the 1980s. That exposure led to development of asbestos lung cancer and mesothelioma.
As part of the asbestos bankruptcy reorganization plan, a Leslie Asbestos Trust was established in 2011 with an estimated $75 million from Leslie and proceeds from existing insurance companies. The trust was created to process, liquidate and pay future claims in accordance with the Distribution Procedures approved by the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, allowing Leslie to emerge from bankruptcy protection. Claims are being accepted until Sept. 1, 2012, as part of the Initial Claim Filing.
Before bankruptcy filing, Leslie had met with mixed results in various liability cases. In one, for example, Merrill v. Leslie Controls, Inc., a U.S. Navy veteran won a $1.218 million award against Leslie stemming from his 20 years of service aboard four different vessels, where he worked with various gaskets and valves produced by Leslie. But two years after the award, a district court of appeals reversed the original ruling because the veteran had not satisfied the burden of linking the asbestos product with the packing and gaskets that he had been using.
Although veterans are prohibited from bringing liability claims directly against the U.S. military, which is protected by sovereign immunity and the Feres Doctrine, they can file claims against companies like Leslie, which provided the Navy with the toxic products.
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