Hodges grants motion to adjourn bar date request in Garlock case

By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo | May 28, 2014

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (Legal Newsline) - The proposed agenda for the next hearing in the Garlock Sealing Technologies bankruptcy case was amended on Tuesday, leaving any mention of the debtors' request for establishment of a bar date off the plan.

The hearing is scheduled for Thursday at 9:30 a.m. in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of North Carolina.

The hearing was originally intended to include a discussion on the debtors' motion for a bar date for current settled asbestos claims, but Hodges granted a motion to adjourn the bar date motion on May 22.

The official Committee of Asbestos Personal Injury Claimants moved to adjourn the debtors' request for a bar date, arguing that it cannot take a position on the proposed bar date due to the debtors' plan of payment. The debtors plan to pay settled asbestos claims in full, which could raise issues of "desperate treatment" between settled claims and allow unliquidated claims and future claims, the committee claims.

Therefore, the committee wants to first see an amended plan of reorganization before the bar date request is heard.

Hodges agreed that the motion to adjourn should be granted based on consideration of the motion, the oppositions submitted and the oral arguments from each party.

Hodges wrote that the debtors' motion for a bar date is continued and held in abeyance and required the debtors to file a proposed amended plan of reorganization.

"The debtors may file and serve an amended notice of hearing regarding the bar date motion when or after the debtors have filed a proposed amended plan of reorganization and disclosure statement," he wrote.

The debtors, which include Garlock, Garrison Litigation Management Group and The Anchor Packing Company, requested a bar date for filing settled Garlock asbestos claims on April 28.

A bar date in a bankruptcy proceeding is a deadline for asbestos victims or companies to make their claims against Garlock, which is intended to prevent surprise claims from arising.

The debtors responded to the official committee's motion on May 19 to adjourn, arguing that all litigation regarding disputed claims should play out at the same time as the confirmation process rather than delaying the process as the committee requests.

In their response, the debtors indicated "it will be important to the parties in interest, under any proposed plan, to define as precisely as possible the amounts of settled Garlock asbestos claims."

As part of the hearing this week, the parties will contest John Crane Inc.'s motion for automatic stay pursuant to Rule 11 of the Bankruptcy Code, which is disputed. The debtors have objected to John Crane Inc.'s request.

Hodges will also hear the debtors' motion for an order authorizing them to enter into the proposed and amended and restated tolling agreements and preserving that status quo ante in respect of discovery related to tolled claims, which is undisputed.

He added that a consent order is currently circulating. If the order is submitted prior to the hearing, then the matter will be resolved. If it is not finalized before Thursday, the matter will be discussed at the hearing.

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

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