Despite Garlock Settlement, Asbestos Lawyers Can't Shake Racketeering Claims Yet

A company that frequently finds itself targeted by asbestos attorneys is taking the reins on racketeering claims that allege those lawyers manipulated the system to unfairly drive up the costs of settlements and verdicts.

On Monday, John Crane Inc. filed lawsuits against at least two asbestos firms under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The basis of the claims is evidence uncovered by Garlock Sealing Technologies three years ago during its bankruptcy proceeding.

“The defendants devised and implemented a scheme to defraud JCI and others, and to obstruct justice,” the JCI complaints say.

“The defendants fabricated false asbestos ‘exposure histories’ for their clients in asbestos litigation against JCI and others and systematically concealed evidence of their clients’ exposure to other sources of asbestos.”

Meanwhile, Jones Walker attorney Mike Magner, who is representing Simon Greenstone, says the company is trying to intimidate lawyers who have had success against it in court.

“It is a cynical and deceitful legal tactic, and these claims will be proven false in court,” he said.

In 2014, Garlock used the evidence from its 2013 bankruptcy estimation trial to file lawsuits against five firms – Shein Law Center of Philadelphia, Belluck & Fox of New York City and Dallas firms Simon Greenstone, Waters & Kraus and Stanley-Iola.

At presstime, a search of the federal courts’ online database showed JCI filed lawsuits Monday against Shein Law and Simon Greenstone in Chicago federal court.

The Garlock lawsuits alleged the five firms told different stories about their clients’ exposures to asbestos in civil lawsuits than they did in the bankruptcy trust system.

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