In what is the latest in a long and convoluted series of lawsuits revolving around Travelers Insurance Co. and its payment of asbestos settlement claims, United States District Court Judge John Koetle for the Southern District of New York ruled that “it was an error to require Travelers to make the settlement payments” and that “the judgment must be reversed.” He wrote that Judge Lifland had incorrectly concluded that settlement lawyers had met all conditions required for Travelers to make payments under the 2004 settlements. This ruling reversed the Bankruptcy Court’s January 20, 2011 final judgment on the December 16, 2010 order granting, inter alia, Statutory Direct Action Settlement Counsel’s motion to compel payment of the Statutory Direct Action Settlement Agreement. Simply stated, Travelers Insurance Company, who provided general liability coverage and other insurance between 1947 and 1976 to Johns Manville Corp, is no longer required to pay nearly $500 million towards asbestos settlements; specifically, the claims that center on the asbestos products manufactured by now-bankrupt Johns Manville Corp., one of the largest manufacturers of asbestos products in U.S. history.
The current case is Travelers Indemnity Co v. Statutory and Hawaii Direct Action Settlement Counsel et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, Nos. 11-01312 and 11-01329. The original case pits Travelers against 26 state-court actions that were bundled into three settlements and mediated by former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo between 2002 and 2004. Those settlements were fought by outside parties, including Chubb Indemnity Insurance Co., which said it didn’t want Travelers to be off the hook for future liabilities as a condition of the settlements. In the most recent ruling, the federal judge said that as a result of other court decisions, the Cuomo settlements do not absolve Travelers of future claims from Chubb and other insurers. As a result, Travelers is not required to pay the thousands of people sickened from inhaling microscopic asbestos fibers.
With 500 Million dollars in dispute, it is likely that we have not heard the last of Travelers. But until then, countless victims of asbestos exposure will be denied justice, left without compensation.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with an asbestos related condition, such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, colon cancer, non-malignant asbestosis, and or pleural disease, delaying any asbestos claim only runs the risk of reducing any potential settlement. Protect your rights and seek legal counsel now. Our mesothelioma dedicated attorneys at Reyes, O’Shea and Coloca fight for the rights of these individuals who were unknowingly exposed and put at risk. Each case is handled individually and given the attention and priority it deserves by our carefully trained legal team.
Courant.com: Travelers Not Required To Pay $500M In Asbestos Settlements, Federal Judge Says