The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to consider reinstating the $500 million settlement of asbestos-related lawsuits against the Travelers Companies Inc. The settlement would also block any new lawsuits against Travelers arising out of the insurance company’s long relationship with Johns Manville Corp., once the world’s largest producer of asbestos.
Travelers was named in a number of lawsuits claiming that it tried to hide the dangerous health effects of asbestos. Exposure can increase the risk of lung cancer, mesothelioma and other ailments, according to federal health agencies. Travelers argued that asbestos-related claims should be paid out of a trust created by Johns Manville in the 1980s and approved by a federal bankruptcy judge. Money for that fund came primarily from insurers.
Travelers agreed to settle with several groups of Plaintiffs provided that federal courts make clear that it would not have to face any new similar lawsuits. But the 2nd U.S Circuit Court of Appeals in New York overturned the lower-court approval of the settlement. The appeals court said a bankruptcy judge lacks the authority to act so broadly. The Supreme Court justices will now consider the question of the bankruptcy court’s power.
Source: Associated Press
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