Dec. 10 (Westlaw Journals) - Drugmaker Pfizer Inc. is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a federal appeals court’s ruling that allows certain asbestos-related lawsuits against the company, even though the subsidiary that was the main target of the suits went through bankruptcy reorganization.
Pfizer Inc. v. Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos, No. 12-300, response requested (U.S. Nov. 6, 2012).
The ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals “frustrates the congressional purposes” of the law written to deal with asbestos-related bankruptcies, Pfizer says in its petition for a writ of certiorari.
The Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos has been pushing courts allow the suits.
The Supreme Court requested Nov. 6 that the Angelos firm file a response by Dec. 6.
In April the 2nd Circuit said Pfizer can face suits over asbestos-containing products made by its unit Quigley Co. The products included Insulag, an asbestos-containing insulation, which Quigley made from the 1930s until the 1970s.
Quigley, which Pfizer bought in 1968, at one time faced suits by more than 160,000 plaintiffs, and it filed for bankruptcy in 2004.
Pfizer made no asbestos-containing products of its own.
The Angelos firm argued, however, that Pfizer was liable because it put its logo on some advertisements for Quigley products, identifying both companies as manufacturers of the asbestos-containing products.
In 2008 the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York enjoined the claims. It said Pfizer’s alleged liability arose from its ownership of Quigley, and the claims must be channeled toward the trust created out of the bankruptcy.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York reversed the Bankruptcy Court, and the 2nd Circuit affirmed.
In its petition for certiorari, Pfizer says the question of whether the suits should be enjoined is crucial to the resolution of asbestos-related bankruptcies.
“The issues presented concern the scope of asbestos-channeling injunctions under 11 U.S.C. § 524(g), which directly impacts the funding, disposition and finality of nearly every asbestos-related Chapter 11 case nationwide,” the company says.
Pfizer says that if the 2nd Circuit’s ruling stands, corporate parents will be discouraged from contributing the funds needed to make Section 524(g) trusts effective for compensating asbestos victims.
The company says Congress enacted Section 524(g) to encourage companies in Pfizer’s position to contribute assets to asbestos bankruptcy trusts “in exchange for a broad channeling injunction.”
Pfizer says the high court should grant the petition and reverse the 2nd Circuit’s judgment.
(Reporting by Kenneth Bradley, Esq., Westlaw Journal Asbestos)