In GM, Asbestos Claimants Request Appointment of a Futures Representative est Request for
The Ad Hoc Committee seeking to represent the interests of asbestos claimants in GM filed a motion [Docket 478] requesting appointment of a futures representative to represent future asbestos claimants.
The Ad Hoc Committee has now expanded; footnote 1 of the motion identifies the committee members as consisting of asbestos claimants with lawyers described as follows:
“The Ad Hoc Committee of Asbestos Personal Injury Claimants is comprised of William J.
Lewis, a mesothelioma claimant with a settled but unpaid claim, represented by
SimmonsCooper LLC; Maureen Tavaglione, Personal Representative of the Estate of Robert
J. Tavaglione, represented by Waters & Kraus; Terry Roth, a lung cancer claimant,
represented by Brayton Purcell LLP; Jene Moore, Sr., a mesothelioma claimant represented
by Early Ludwick & Sweeney L.L.C.; Edward Levitch, a mesothelioma claimant represented
by Paul & Hanley LLP; and asbestos personal injury claimants represented by Cooney and
Conway; The Lanier Law Firm PLLC and Weitz & Luxemberg, P.C. Steven KazMcClain, Lyons, Greenwood & Harley, PLC, serves as an ex oficio member.”
In support of their motion, the claimants cite GM’s SEC filings that state a reserve of $ 627 million for the next 10 years of asbestos claims:
General Motors’ most recent Quarterly Report (Form 10-Q) filed with the
Securities and Exchange Commission admits that it has hired the firm of
“Hamilton Rabinovitz & Associates, Inc., a firm specializing in estimating
asbestos claims, to assist us in determining our potential liability for pending
and unasserted future asbestos personal injury claims.” After noting that
their estimates are “inherently subject to certain uncertainties” and that
their data sources and assumptions “may not prove to be reliable predictors
with respect to claims asserted against us,” General Motors states that its
“liability recorded for asbestos-related matters was $627 million, $648 million
and $628 million at March 31, 2009, December 31, 2008 and March 31, 2008
The Claimants argue the estimate is too low and fault the Auto Task Force:
Experience suggests that these figures fall on the extreme low side of likely future asbestos liability.
Thus the magnitude of General Motors’ projected ongoing asbestos liability
has been a matter of public knowledge and should have been addressed by
both General Motors and the Auto Task Force in their restructuring
9. As stated in the Motion, to ensure that General Motors’
acknowledged future asbestos claimants are vigorously and faithfully
represented, a legal representative for future asbestos personal injury
claimants (a “Future Claimants’ Representative”) should be appointed at the
earliest possible date in order to take an “active and aggressive role” in
protecting their interests “at every step [of the] litigation.” Findley v. Falise
(In re Johns-Manville Corp.), 898 F.Supp. 473, 565 (S.D.N.Y. 1995).
Similarly, because the Sale Motion now before this Court seeks to affect the
rights of current asbestos claimants as well as future asbestos demand
holders, an Official Committee of Asbestos Personal Injury Claimants (an
“Asbestos Committee”) should be appointed as early in this bankruptcy case
as is practicable.
11. With the fast track schedule to which the Debtors are
committed, delaying appointment of a Future Claims’ Representative and an
Asbestos Committee would, in effect, deny unknown future asbestos
claimants the protections to which they are entitled and deny current
asbestos claimants any meaningful participation in these cases.
Judge Gerber denied the motion in an order [Docket 507] that consists of a sentence written on the face of the motion, saying that adequate cause had not been shown. Therefore, the hearing is now set by notice [Docket 637] for June 25 at the 9:45 am hearing, which is 5 days before the June 30 sale hearing is scheduled to occur.