Company wants look at asbestos bankruptcy trust payments

By John O'Brien | Aug 20, 2010

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Legal Newsline) - The former maker of asbestos-containing dryer felts, on the hook for a $1.6 million verdict, wants Maryland's highest court to permit it to see how much money a plaintiff has already received for his claim from other companies.

Scapa Dryer Fabrics filed its brief with the state Court of Appeals Thursday, arguing it should be able to see all payments made to Carl Saville before it makes its payment. The verdict against Scapa has already been reduced twice.

"It is evident that all bankruptcy trust documentation needs to be provided to this court and counsel so that a proper accounting can be made of all Plaintiff's bankruptcy trust settlements, before reductions to any verdict against Scapa can be completed accurately," the company asked of Baltimore City Circuit Court.

In 2005, the verdict against Scapa was $3 million. It was reversed, though, because Scapa was added as a defendant six months before trial and was never given the chance to conduct discovery.

In 2008, the jury returned a $1,718,000 verdict, which was later reduced by more than $100,000 to account for payments made by three companies' bankruptcy trusts.

"The circuit court refused, however, to reduce the verdict to account for other payments that Mr. Saville received from other bankruptcy trusts, including the Combustion Engineering Personal Injury Trust ($20,000 payment to Mr. Saville), the Eagle Pitcher Industries Personal Trust ($8,423.32 payment to Mr. Saville), and the Halliburton bankruptcy trust (payment amount unknown)," the brief says.

"In addition, Scapa asked the circiut court to reduce the judgment to account for any and all payments that Mr. Saville received from the bankruptcy trusts that it previously refused to recognize."

Scapa also says there was not enough evidence to sustain the verdict against it.

"(A)lthough Scapa argued that the circuit erred in not permitting Scapa to obtain discovery of the bankruptcy trust payments to Mr. Saville, the Court of Special Appeals would not address the merits of Scapa's argument because Scapa did not have all information concerning the payments that Mr. Saville received," the brief says.

"In this appeal, Scapa argues that it should have been permitted to take such discovery and that the verdict should have been reduced to account for all bankruptcy trust payments."

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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