Pa. company is 89th to collapse under asbestos claims

Steve Korris Apr. 27, 2010, 12:22pm

PHILADELPHIA (Legal Newsline) - Durabla Manufacturing, a Pennsylvania company that made sealing products, collapsed under the weight of 108,000 asbestos suits.

U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno of Philadelphia, responsible for asbestos claims nationwide, received notice on April 12 of Durabla's bankruptcy.

Asbestos litigation has bankrupted 89 companies in 28 years, according to the Crowell Moring firm in Washington. Among the earliest was Johns-Manville in 1982; and among the latest was General Motors last year.

Durabla received its first asbestos claim in 1980, Mark Eckard of Wilmington wrote for owner David Moser on Jan. 7.

Primary coverage of $8.5 million lasted until 2002, Eckard wrote, paying 16,017 claims at an average of $531.

Durabla had closed about 62,000 cases without payment by then, he wrote, but about 79,000 cases remained open between 2002 and 2009.

Durabla showed a profit in 2002, he wrote, and retained earnings of $1,113,555.

It showed a profit three of the next four years, he wrote, but sales didn't cover overhead and Durabla ceased operation in 2007.

It has spent cash and marketed securities to wind up its affairs, defend litigation and protect insurance coverage, he wrote.

As of last June 30, he wrote, it had $318,847 in cash and $1.5 million in coverage.

Eckard represents Moser, who is being sued personally over asbestos claims.

Moser started an adversary proceeding in bankruptcy court, seeking a declaration that he wouldn't have to defend asbestos suits individually.

Eckard wrote that as Durabla exhausted coverage in 2008, claimants started suing Moser and two companies as alter egos.

Durabla lawyer Chad Toms of Wilmington did not submit a list of creditors to bankruptcy court, instead identifying 20 firms with the most plaintiffs.

Weitz and Luxenberg, of New York City, leads the group with 33,649 plaintiffs.

Jaques Admiralty Law Firm of Detroit nearly matches that, with 33,111.

Peter Angelos and Peter Nicholl of Baltimore represent about 8,000 and 7,000.

Morris, Sakalarios and Blackwell of Hattiesburg, Miss., represents about 5,000.

About 4,000 suits come from other Mississippi firms: Conway and Martin of Gulfport; Byrd and Associates of Jackson; Foster Law Group of Ocean Springs; and Porter and Malouf of Ridgeland.

Brent Coon and Associates of Dallas represents about 3,000, and so does Wilentz, Goldman and Spitzer of New York City.

Motley Rice of Mount Pleasant, S.C., did not make the list, but it entered an appearance in bankruptcy court 15 days after Durabla filed its petition.

According to Crowell Moring in Washington, the following is a list of asbestos bankruptcies:

1982: UNR Industries, Johns-Manville, Amatex, Unarco

1983: Waterman Steamship

1984: Wallace & Gale

1985: Forty-Eight Insulations

1986: Philadelphia Asbestos, Standard Insulations, Prudential Lines, McLean Industries, United States Lines

1987: Gatke Corp., Todd Shipyards, Nicolet Inc.

1989: Raymark/Raytech, Delaware Insulations, Hillsborough Holding Co.

1990: Celotex, Carey Canada, National Gypsum

1991: Eagle-Picher Industries, H.K. Porter Co.

1992: Kentile Floors

1993: American Shipbuilding, Keene Corp.

1995: Lykes Bros. Steamship

1996: Rock Wool Manufacturing

1998: M. H. Detrick, Fuller-Austin, Brunswick Fabricators

1999: Harnischfeger Corp., Rutland Fire Clay

2000: Babcock & Wilcox, Pittsburgh Corning, Owens
Corning/Fibreboard, Armstrong World Industries

2001: Burns & Roe, G-I Holdings, Skinner Engine, W.R. Grace, USG Corp., E.J. Bartells, United States Mineral Products, Federal Mogul, Murphy Marine Services, Insul, Swan Transportation

2002: North American Refractories, Kaiser Aluminum, GIT/Harbison-Walker/AP Green Industries, Plibrico, Shook & Fletcher, Porter-Hayden, Artra Group, Special Metals, Asbestos Claims Management Corp., AC and S, JT Thorpe Co. (Texas), A-Best Products, Western MacArthur/Western Asbestos

2003: C.E. Thurston, Combustion Engineering, Congoleum, Mid-Valley (Halliburton subsidiaries), Muralo Co.

2004: Flintkote/Flintkote Mines, Oglebay Norton, Special Electric, Quigley Co., Utex Industries, JT Thorpe Inc. (California.)

2005: API Inc., Lake Asbestos of Quebec Ltd., Asarco, Brauer Supply

2006: Dana Corporation, ABB Lummus Global, Lloyd E. Mitchell Co.

2007: Thorpe Insulation, Pacific Insulation

2008: Hercules Chemical, Christy Refractories, T H Agriculture & Nutrition

2009: Plant Insulation Co., General Motors (However, GM disavows intent to proceed as asbestos bankruptcy, but trustee appointed asbestos claimants committee and GM moved to appoint a future claims representative).

2010: Durabla Manufacturing

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Organizations in this Story

Weitz and Luxenberg
700 Broadway
New York, NY 10003

Babcock & Wilcox
13024 Ballantyne Corporate Pl Suite 700
Charlotte, NC 28277

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