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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

Who Should Be The Trustees of $ 20 + Billion for Tort Claimants – Retiring Madison County &#8

Here’s an article from a defense-oriented publication regarding Judge Daniel Stack retiring and being nominated to become a Trustee of the Flinkote asbestos bankruptcy trust. Judge Stack is perhaps better known generically as the Madison County "asbestos judge" who in 2004 took over the docket from Judge Bryon. According to the article, some person or entity has objected to the nomination. Certainly, different people will have different spins on the particular subject of Judge Stack’s nomination.

One could think the larger picture issue should be a discussion of the who, how and why of selecting Trustees for bankruptcy trusts. These jobs are important. Why? The asbestos trusts are collectively administering over $ 20 billion of capital to be paid out over decades ahead – that’s a lot of money in most anyone’s book. To date, however, the appointment of trustees has in general been controlled by a small group of lawyers, and then approved by a limited number of judges. See generally the 2010 RAND asbestos bankruptcy study referenced in this prior post, and available here from RAND for free online reading or downloading. It seems hard to swallow the notion that a small club should effectively control so much, with no meaningful benchmarks or criteria as to how/why particular persons should be or are chosen to become trustees, and with so little transparency into trust actions.

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