Due to a Second Circuit ruling yesterday, Travelers is about out of rope in its effort to avoid paying $500 million to asbestos plaintiffs who sued it directly for its role in suppressing information about the full extent of the health hazards of asbestos. The suits arose because Travelers was Manville’s primary insurer while reports of asbestos disease flowed into Manville with increasing frequency, and Travelers was seeing and handling many of the claims. Travelers, however, never issued warnings, and kept writing insurance policies that prolonged Manville’s global sales of asbestos-containing products. Therefore, when Manville went into chapter 11, some plaintiffs’ lawyers moved their gun sights to directly target Travelers.
Some follow-up thoughts. Assuming Travelers fails to obtain cert, will Travelers and plaintiffs lawyers ensure transparency in accounting for payments to plaintiffs? And, which plaintiff and defense lawyers will in the future take advantage of this saga in terms of its implications for additional suits against Travelers, Manville, and others?