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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

N.Y. court won't dismiss asbestos suits against dissolved valve maker

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | Apr 25, 2014

NEW YORK (Legal Newsline) - A New York court has reaffirmed a previous decision denying a company's efforts to dismiss asbestos claims against it, noting that the company is still amenable and subject to lawsuits.

The Supreme Court of New York County's Appellate Division, First Department, upheld the decision in an April 17 order, denying appellant Liberty Mutual Insurance Company's motion to dismiss asbestos complaints brought against Jenkins Bros.

Jenkins is a former asbestos valve manufacturer.

On Oct. 29, Judge Sherry Klein Heitler filed her original order denying the same requests and directed service to be made on Jenkins Bros. by substituting service on Liberty Mutual.

In regards to asbestos-related claims alleging injuries due to asbestos exposure, Liberty Mutual claimed Jenkins was no longer amenable to lawsuits due to its bankruptcy and dissolution.

Jenkins, being a dissolved New Jersey corporation, is viewed through New Jersey law.

Heitler found that the New Jersey dissolution statute "provides for a corporation that has been dissolved to 'sue and be sued in its corporation name ...,' and the statute places no restriction on how long a dissolved corporation maintains its capacity to be sued for its tortious conduct committed pre-dissolution."

Therefore, she ruled that Jenkins is still an amenable corporation despite Liberty Mutual's arguments.

Because the court was only able to locate two former corporate representatives due to Jenkins' dissolution, the court substituted service regarding the decision on Liberty Mutual.

Liberty Mutual insured Jenkins, agreeing to defend and indemnify the company in tort cases, during its coverage periods, which makes service proper.

Liberty Mutual's coverage for Jenkins include liability for conduct that may have led to asbestos-related injuries.

"Appellant's contractual coverage obligations should not be nullified on the mere happenstance that the corporation was dissolved at the time these latent injuries manifested," the order sates.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Heather Isringhausen Gvillo at asbestos@legalnewsline.com

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