/raid1/www/Hosts/bankrupt/CAR_Public/120203.mbx              C L A S S   A C T I O N   R E P O R T E R

             Friday, February 3, 2012, Vol. 14, No. 24


ALTRIA GROUP: Trial in "Brown" Suit Set for Oct. 5, 2012
ALTRIA GROUP: Two Medical Monitoring Class Suits Still Pending
ALTRIA GROUP: PM USA Opposes Additional Atty. Fee in "Scott" Suit
ALTRIA GROUP: Continues to Defend 19 "Lights/Ultra Lights" Cases
ALTRIA GROUP: Mediation in Kraft Thrift Plan Cases Ongoing

ALTRIA GROUP: Still Defends Smoking and Health Class Suits
ALTRIA GROUP: Trial in "Smith" Antitrust Suit Set for July 16
ALTRIA GROUP: Unit Seeks to Dismiss Wage and Hour Suit Claims
ARCTIC CAT: Recalls 19,000 Snowmobiles Due to Crash Hazard
BALLY TOTAL: Faces Class Action Over Gym Lifetime Memberships

BAPTIST HOSPITAL: Feb. 21 Deadline Set for Settlement Objection
BLITT AND GAINES: Sued Over Unlicensed Debt Collection in Ill.
CARNIVAL CORP: Crew Member Files Class Action in Illinois
CLARCOR INC: Awaits Approval of Deal in MDL Proceeding vs. Unit
EMULEX CORP: Securities Suit vs. Unit Closed and Concluded

ENER1 INC: Awaits Decision on Motions to Consolidate N.Y. Suits
GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA: Faces Class Action Over Suntown Tip
GREEN MOUNTAIN: Judge Dismisses Accounting Fraud Class Action
INT'L VACATION: Sued Over Condo Deal Bait & Switch Tactics
K12 INC: Faruqi & Faruqi Files Securities Class Action

LOUISIANA CITIZENS: Seeks Emergency Stay of Asset Seizure Order
MICROMET INC: Being Sold to Amgen for Too Little, Del. Suit Says
RCMP: Seeks Public Input in Workplace Harassment Probe
SPECIALIZED BICYCLE: Recalls 460 Bicycles Due to Fall Hazard
TIMBERCORP: Agribusiness Class Actions Set to Return to Court

                          Asbestos Litigation

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Crane Co. Had 58,658 Pending Claims at Dec. 31
ASBESTOS UPDATE: No 3rd-Party Claims Filed Against Sanmina-SCI
ASBESTOS UPDATE: Chubb Corp. Has $605MM Net Reserves at Dec. 31
ASBESTOS UPDATE: H.B. Fuller Has $399,000 Probable Liabilities
ASBESTOS UPDATE: Columbus McKinnon to Pay $1MM in Next 12 Months

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Del. Ct. Dismisses Suit vs. Georgia-Pacific
ASBESTOS UPDATE: Suit vs. PREPA Junked for Lack of Jurisdiction
ASBESTOS UPDATE: Ct. Dismisses Suit vs. Dissolved Alabama Company
ASBESTOS UPDATE: Del. Ct. Dismisses Suit vs. Sherwin-Williams
ASBESTOS UPDATE: N.Y. Ct. Dismisses Suit vs. Gardner Denver

ASBESTOS UPDATE: N.Y. Ct. Denies Summary Dismissal of Tishman Suit
ASBESTOS UPDATE: Death Benefits Claim Denied for Being Untimely
ASBESTOS UPDATE: DNR to Decide Abatement Method at Joplin School
ASBESTOS UPDATE: ADAO Pushes to Bar Chrysotile Trade on US Soil
ASBESTOS UPDATE: Actinolite Discovery Closes Baytex Energy Centre

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Mesothelioma Risk Not High, Namibian Doctor Says
ASBESTOS UPDATE: High Court Urges India to Consider Asbestos Ban
ASBESTOS UPDATE: Appeals Court Reverses Rule Against Pneumo Abex
ASBESTOS UPDATE: Demolition of Airport Terminal Delayed
ASBESTOS UPDATE: Motley Rice Disputes Calif. Sup. Ct. Ruling

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Pittsburgh Lawyer Directed to Submit Docs
ASBESTOS UPDATE: Former Red Cross Board Member Chadha Steps Down
ASBESTOS UPDATE: New Canaan Settles Lawsuit With O&G/AP
ASBESTOS UPDATE: Weitz & Luxenberg Client to Get $7.5MM in Accord
ASBESTOS UPDATE: Biloela House Demolished After Suspicious Fire

ASBESTOS UPDATE: March 26 Hearing Set Over 2013 Asbestos Docket
ASBESTOS UPDATE: Durfee Firm to Convert Old Bldgs to Rental Units
ASBESTOS UPDATE: Voters to Decide Mine Inclusion on Superfund List
ASBESTOS UPDATE: Hazards Spook Demolition Men at Bonded Station
ASBESTOS UPDATE: Luna Park's Hazmat Registration Not Updated

ASBESTOS UPDATE: MSU to Tear Down Contaminated "Monopoly Houses"
ASBESTOS UPDATE: Tests Confirm Vermiculite in 7 Kawartha Schools
ASBESTOS UPDATE: Student Center Demolition to Complete by Feb. 10
ASBESTOS UPDATE: BMHA Hires Arric Corp, Stohl and MS Analytical
ASBESTOS UPDATE: House Bill 380 Passed Congress With A 55-41 Vote

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Yorktown Abatement Job Goes to Bidder for $68,000
ASBESTOS UPDATE: $60,000 Fine Against AHNI for Health Violations
ASBESTOS UPDATE: Missoula Tries for $280,000 EPA Federal Grant
ASBESTOS UPDATE: ALEC Carped for Legislation Crafted to Help Crown
ASBESTOS UPDATE: Madison County Inspires Legislation On Hand-Outs

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Superfund Designation of Eden Mines Up for Vote
ASBESTOS UPDATE: ExxonMobil, Sequa Corp, et al. Face Lawsuit
ASBESTOS UPDATE: Razed Banning Craftsman-Style Home Decontaminated
ASBESTOS UPDATE: Environmental Issues Delay Old Fire Station Sale
ASBESTOS UPDATE: Lab Accepts Samples Via Mail, Results In 24 Hrs

ASBESTOS UPDATE: 600 Grace Claimants Near Settlement
ASBESTOS UPDATE: Contaminants Disrupt Stage Play at C-SD School
ASBESTOS UPDATE: Appeal on $15.2MM Jury Verdict v. Conoco Starts
ASBESTOS UPDATE: Tenant Leaders Hit New Chelsea Hotel Owner Again
ASBESTOS UPDATE: Jury Awards Half of $443,000 Among Franklins

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Senate Candidate Carped for Helping Insurance Co.
ASBESTOS UPDATE: Kmart Plan Discharge Vacated Over Scant Record


ALTRIA GROUP: Trial in "Brown" Suit Set for Oct. 5, 2012
Trial has been set in a class action lawsuit against Altria Group,
Inc.'s subsidiary, Philip Morris USA, alleging violations under
the California Business and Professions Code, for
October 5, 2012, according to the Company's January 27, 2012, Form
8-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

In June 1997, a lawsuit (Brown) was filed in California state
court alleging that domestic cigarette manufacturers, including
the Company's wholly owned subsidiary, Philip Morris USA Inc. ("PM
USA"), and others, have violated Sections 17200 and 17500 of the
California Business and Professions Code regarding unfair,
unlawful and fraudulent business practices.  Class certification
was granted as to plaintiffs' claims that class members are
entitled to reimbursement of the costs of cigarettes purchased
during the class periods and injunctive relief.  In September
2004, the trial court granted defendants' motion for summary
judgment as to plaintiffs' claims attacking defendants' cigarette
advertising and promotion and denied defendants' motion for
summary judgment on plaintiffs' claims based on allegedly false
affirmative statements.  In March 2005, the court granted
defendants' motion to decertify the class based on a California
law, which inter alia limits the ability to bring a lawsuit to
only those plaintiffs who have "suffered injury in fact" and "lost
money or property" as a result of defendants' alleged statutory
violations ("Proposition 64").

In September 2006, an intermediate appellate court affirmed the
trial court's order decertifying the class.  In May 2009, the
California Supreme Court reversed the trial court decision that
was affirmed by the appellate court and remanded the case to the
trial court.  In March 2010, the trial court granted
reconsideration of its September 2004 order granting partial
summary judgment to defendants with respect to plaintiffs'
"Lights" claims on the basis of judicial decisions issued since
its order was issued, including the United States Supreme Court's
ruling in Good, thereby reinstating plaintiffs' "Lights" claims.
Since the trial court's prior ruling decertifying the class was
reversed on appeal by the California Supreme Court, the parties
and the court are treating all claims currently being asserted by
the plaintiffs as certified, subject, however, to defendants'
challenge to the class representatives' standing to assert their
claims.  The class is defined as people who, at the time they were
residents of California, smoked in California one or more
cigarettes between June 10, 1993, and April 23, 2001, and who were
exposed to defendants' marketing and advertising activities in

In July 2010, plaintiffs filed a motion seeking collateral
estoppel effect from the findings in the case brought by the
Department of Justice.  In September 2010, plaintiffs filed a
motion for preliminary resolution of legal issues regarding
restitutionary relief.  The trial court denied both of plaintiffs'
motions in November 2010.  In November 2010, defendants filed a
motion seeking a determination that Brown class members who were
also part of the class in Daniels (a previously disclosed consumer
fraud case in which the California Supreme Court affirmed summary
judgment in PM USA's favor based on preemption and First Amendment
grounds) are precluded by the Daniels judgment from recovering in
Brown.  This motion was denied in December 2010.  Defendants
sought review of this decision before the Fourth District Court of
Appeal but were denied review in March 2011.

On January 9, 2012, defendants filed motions for a determination
that the class representatives lack standing and are not typical
or adequate to represent the class and to decertify the class.
Argument is scheduled for March 21, 2012.  Trial is currently
scheduled for October 5, 2012.

ALTRIA GROUP: Two Medical Monitoring Class Suits Still Pending
Two purported medical monitoring class actions are pending against
Altria Group, Inc.'s wholly owned subsidiary, Philip Morris USA
Inc. ("PM USA"), according to the Company's
January 27, 2012, Form 8-K filing with the U.S. Securities and
Exchange Commission.

These two cases were brought in New York (Caronia, filed in
January 2006 in the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of New York) and Massachusetts (Donovan, filed in
December 2006 in the United States District Court for the District
of Massachusetts) on behalf of each state's respective residents
who: are age 50 or older; have smoked the Marlboro brand for 20
pack-years or more; and have neither been diagnosed with lung
cancer nor are under investigation by a physician for suspected
lung cancer.  Plaintiffs in these cases seek to impose liability
under various product-based causes of action and the creation of a
court-supervised program providing members of the purported class
Low Dose CT Scanning in order to identify and diagnose lung
cancer.  Plaintiffs in these cases do not seek punitive damages.
A case brought in California (Xavier) was dismissed in July 2011,
and a case brought in Florida (Gargano) was voluntarily dismissed
with prejudice in August 2011.

In Caronia, in February 2010, the district court granted in part
PM USA's summary judgment motion, dismissing plaintiffs' strict
liability and negligence claims and certain other claims, granted
plaintiffs leave to amend their complaint to allege a medical
monitoring cause of action and requested further briefing on PM
USA's summary judgment motion as to plaintiffs' implied warranty
claim and, if plaintiffs amend their complaint, their medical
monitoring claim.  In March 2010, plaintiffs filed their amended
complaint and PM USA moved to dismiss the implied warranty and
medical monitoring claims.  In January 2011, the district court
granted PM USA's motion, dismissed plaintiffs' claims and declared
plaintiffs' motion for class certification moot in light of the
dismissal of the case.  The plaintiffs have appealed that decision
to the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Argument has been set for March 1, 2012.

In Donovan, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, in
answering questions certified to it by the district court, held in
October 2009 that under certain circumstances state law recognizes
a claim by individual smokers for medical monitoring despite the
absence of an actual injury.  The court also ruled that whether or
not the case is barred by the applicable statute of limitations is
a factual issue to be determined by the trial court.  The case was
remanded to federal court for further proceedings.  In June 2010,
the district court granted in part the plaintiffs' motion for
class certification, certifying the class as to plaintiffs' claims
for breach of implied warranty and violation of the Massachusetts
Consumer Protection Act, but denying certification as to
plaintiffs' negligence claim.  In July 2010, PM USA petitioned the
United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit for appellate
review of the class certification decision.  The petition was
denied in September 2010.  As a remedy, plaintiffs have proposed a
28-year medical monitoring program with an approximate cost of
$190 million.  In April 2011, plaintiffs moved to amend their
class certification to extend the cut-off date for individuals to
satisfy the class membership criteria from December 14, 2006, to
August 1, 2011.  The district court granted this motion in May
2011.  Trial has been postponed.  In June 2011, plaintiffs filed
various motions for summary judgment and to strike affirmative
defenses.  On October 31, 2011, PM USA filed a motion for class
decertification.  Argument was scheduled for January 27, 2012.

The Company says evolving medical standards and practices could
have an impact on the defense of medical monitoring claims.  For
example, the first publication of the findings of the National
Cancer Institute's National Lung Screening Trial (NLST) in June
2011 reported a 20% reduction in lung cancer deaths among certain
long term smokers receiving Low Dose CT Scanning for lung cancer.
Since then, various public health organizations have begun to
develop new lung cancer screening guidelines.  Also, a number of
hospitals have advertised the availability of screening programs.

ALTRIA GROUP: PM USA Opposes Additional Atty. Fee in "Scott" Suit
Altria Group, Inc.'s subsidiary, Philip Morris USA Inc., opposes
plaintiffs' counsel's request for additional costs and for fees
in the "Scott" Class Action.  Argument on whether defendants can
be held liable for attorneys' additional fees is scheduled for
February 3, 2012, according to Altria Group, Inc.'s January 27,
2012, Form 8-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange

In July 2003, following the first phase of the trial in the Scott
class action, in which plaintiffs sought creation of a fund to pay
for medical monitoring and smoking cessation programs, a Louisiana
jury returned a verdict in favor of defendants, including the
Company's wholly owned subsidiary, Philip Morris USA Inc. ("PM
USA"), in connection with plaintiffs' medical monitoring claims,
but also found that plaintiffs could benefit from smoking
cessation assistance.  The jury also found that cigarettes as
designed are not defective but that the defendants failed to
disclose all they knew about smoking and diseases and marketed
their products to minors.  In May 2004, in the second phase of the
trial, the jury awarded plaintiffs approximately $590 million
against all defendants jointly and severally, to fund a 10-year
smoking cessation program.  Defendants appealed.

In April 2010, the Louisiana Fourth Circuit Court of Appeal issued
a decision that affirmed in part prior decisions ordering the
defendants to fund a statewide 10-year smoking cessation program.
After conducting its own independent review of the record, the
Court of Appeal made its own factual findings with respect to
liability and the amount owed, lowering the amount of the judgment
to approximately $241 million, plus interest commencing July 21,
2008, the date of entry of the amended judgment.  In addition, the
Court of Appeal declined plaintiffs' cross appeal requests for a
medical monitoring program and reinstatement of other components
of the smoking cessation program.  The Court of Appeal
specifically reserved to the defendants the right to assert claims
to any unspent or unused surplus funds at the termination of the
smoking cessation program.  In June 2010, defendants and
plaintiffs filed separate writ of certiorari applications with the
Louisiana Supreme Court.  The Louisiana Supreme Court denied both
sides' applications.  In September 2010, upon defendants'
application, the United States Supreme Court granted a stay of the
judgment pending the defendants' filing and the Court's
disposition of the defendants' petition for a writ of certiorari.
In June 2011, the United States Supreme Court denied the
defendants' petition.  As of March 31, 2011, PM USA recorded a
provision of $26 million in connection with the case and
additional provisions of approximately $3.7 million related to
accrued interest.  In the second quarter of 2011, after the June
2011 United States Supreme Court denial of defendants' petition
for a writ of certiorari, PM USA recorded an additional provision
of approximately $36 million related to the judgment and
approximately $5 million related to interest.

In August 2011, PM USA paid its share of the judgment in an amount
of approximately $70 million.  The defendants' payments have been
deposited into a court-supervised fund that is intended to pay for
smoking cessation programs.  On October 31, 2011, plaintiffs'
counsel filed a motion for an award of attorneys' fees and costs.
Plaintiffs' counsel seek additional fees from defendants ranging
from $91 million to $642 million.  Additionally, plaintiffs'
counsel request an award of approximately $13 million in costs.
As of December 31, 2011, PM USA has recorded a provision of
approximately $1.3 million for costs, but is opposing plaintiffs'
counsel's request for additional costs and for fees.  Argument on
whether defendants can be held liable for attorneys' fees is
scheduled for
February 3, 2012.

ALTRIA GROUP: Continues to Defend 19 "Lights/Ultra Lights" Cases
Altria Group, Inc., and its subsidiaries continue to defend 19
cases, 18 in the United States and one in Israel, that allege that
the uses of the terms "Lights" and/or "Ultra Lights" constitute
deceptive and unfair trade practices, according to the Company's
January 27, 2012, Form 8-K filing with the U.S. Securities and
Exchange Commission.

Plaintiffs in certain pending matters seek certification of their
cases as class actions and allege, among other things, that the
uses of the terms "Lights" and/or "Ultra Lights" constitute
deceptive and unfair trade practices, common law fraud, or
Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO)
violations, and seek injunctive and equitable relief, including
restitution and, in certain cases, punitive damages.  These class
actions have been brought against the Company's wholly owned
subsidiary, Philip Morris USA Inc. ("PM USA"), and, in certain
instances, the Company or its subsidiaries, on behalf of
individuals who purchased and consumed various brands of,
including Marlboro Lights, Marlboro Ultra Lights, Virginia Slims
Lights and Superslims, Merit Lights and Cambridge Lights.
Defenses raised in these cases include lack of misrepresentation,
lack of causation, injury, and damages, the statute of
limitations, express preemption by the Federal Cigarette Labeling
and Advertising Act ("FCLAA") and implied preemption by the
policies and directives of the FTC, non-liability under state
statutory provisions exempting conduct that complies with federal
regulatory directives, and the First Amendment.  As of
December 31, 2011, a total of eighteen such cases were pending in
the United States.  Four of these cases were pending in a
multidistrict litigation proceeding in a single U.S. federal
court.  The other cases were pending in various U.S. state courts.
In addition, a purported "Lights" class action is pending against
PM USA in Israel.  Other entities have stated that they are
considering filing such actions against Altria Group, Inc. and PM

In the one "Lights" case pending in Israel, hearings on
plaintiffs' motion for class certification were held in November
and December 2008, and an additional hearing on class
certification was held in November 2011.

                          The Good Case

In May 2006, a federal trial court in Maine granted PM USA's
motion for summary judgment in Good, a purported "Lights" class
action, on the grounds that plaintiffs' claims are preempted by
the FCLAA and dismissed the case.  In August 2007, the United
States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit vacated the district
court's grant of PM USA's motion for summary judgment on federal
preemption grounds and remanded the case to district court.  The
district court stayed the case pending the United States Supreme
Court's ruling on defendants' petition for writ of certiorari with
the United States Supreme Court, which was granted in January
2008.  The case was stayed pending the United States Supreme
Court's decision.  In December 2008, the United States Supreme
Court ruled that plaintiffs' claims are not barred by federal
preemption.  Although the Court rejected the argument that the
FTC's actions were so extensive with respect to the descriptors
that the state law claims were barred as a matter of federal law,
the Court's decision was limited: it did not address the ultimate
merits of plaintiffs' claim, the viability of the action as a
class action, or other state law issues.  The case was returned to
the federal court in Maine and consolidated with other federal
cases in the multidistrict litigation proceeding.  In June 2011,
the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the case without prejudice
after the district court denied plaintiffs' motion for class

                Federal Multidistrict Proceeding

Since the December 2008 United States Supreme Court decision in
Good, and through December 31, 2011, twenty-four purported
"Lights" class actions were served upon PM USA and, in certain
cases, Altria Group, Inc.  These cases were filed in 14 states,
the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia.  All of
these cases either were filed in federal court or were removed to
federal court by PM USA.

A number of purported "Lights" class actions were transferred and
consolidated by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation
("JPMDL") before the United States District Court for the District
of Maine for pretrial proceedings ("MDL proceeding").  These
cases, and the states in which each originated, included: Biundo
(Illinois), Cabbat (Hawaii), Calistro (U.S. Virgin Islands), Corse
(Tennessee), Domaingue (New York), Good (Maine), Haubrich
(Pennsylvania), McClure (Tennessee), Mirick (Mississippi), Mulford
(New Mexico), Parsons (District of Columbia), Phillips (Ohio),
Slater (District of Columbia), Tang (New York), Tyrer
(California), Williams (Arkansas) and Wyatt (Wisconsin).

In November 2010, the district court in the MDL proceeding denied
plaintiffs' motion for class certification in four cases, covering
the jurisdictions of California, the District of Columbia,
Illinois and Maine.  These jurisdictions were selected by the
parties as sample cases, with two selected by plaintiffs and two
selected by defendants.  Plaintiffs sought appellate review of
this decision but, in February 2011, the United States Court of
Appeals for the First Circuit denied plaintiffs' petition for
leave to appeal.  In June 2011, plaintiffs in twelve cases
voluntarily dismissed without prejudice their cases, and in August
2011, plaintiff in McClure voluntarily dismissed the case without
prejudice.  On December 12, 2011, the district court approved the
request of the plaintiffs in the remaining four cases (Phillips,
Tang, Wyatt and Cabbat) to recommend to the JPMDL that their cases
be transferred back to the courts in which the lawsuits
originated.  The question of the transfer, which defendants
oppose, is now before the JPMDL.

                    "Lights" Cases Dismissed,
              Not Certified or Ordered De-Certified

To date, in addition to the district court in the MDL proceeding,
15 courts in 16 "Lights" cases have refused to certify class
actions, dismissed class action allegations, reversed prior class
certification decisions or have entered judgment in favor of PM

Trial courts in Arizona, Illinois, Kansas, New Jersey, New Mexico,
Oregon, Tennessee and Washington have refused to grant class
certification or have dismissed plaintiffs' class action
allegations.  Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed a case in Michigan
after a trial court dismissed the claims plaintiffs asserted under
the Michigan Unfair Trade and Consumer Protection Act.

Several appellate courts have issued rulings that either affirmed
rulings in favor of Altria Group, Inc. and/or PM USA or reversed
rulings entered in favor of plaintiffs.  In Florida, an
intermediate appellate court overturned an order by a trial court
that granted class certification in Hines.  The Florida Supreme
Court denied review in January 2008.  The Supreme Court of
Illinois has overturned a judgment that awarded damages to a
certified class in the Price case.  In Louisiana, the United
States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit dismissed a
purported "Lights" class action brought in Louisiana federal court
(Sullivan) on the grounds that plaintiffs' claims were preempted
by the FCLAA.  In New York, the United States Court of Appeals for
the Second Circuit overturned a decision by a New York trial court
in Schwab that denied defendants' summary judgment motions and
granted plaintiffs' motion for certification of a nationwide class
of all United States residents that purchased cigarettes in the
United States that were labeled "Light" or "Lights."  In July
2010, plaintiffs in Schwab voluntarily dismissed the case with
prejudice.  In Ohio, the Ohio Supreme Court overturned class
certifications in the Marrone and Phillips cases.  Plaintiffs
voluntarily dismissed without prejudice both cases in August 2009.
The Supreme Court of Washington denied a motion for interlocutory
review filed by the plaintiffs in the Davies case that sought
review of an order by the trial court that refused to certify a
class.  Plaintiffs subsequently voluntarily dismissed the Davies
case with prejudice.

In Oregon (Pearson), a state court denied plaintiff's motion for
interlocutory review of the trial court's refusal to certify a
class.  In February 2007, PM USA filed a motion for summary
judgment based on federal preemption and the Oregon statutory
exemption.  In September 2007, the district court granted PM USA's
motion based on express preemption under the FCLAA, and plaintiffs
appealed this dismissal and the class certification denial to the
Oregon Court of Appeals.  Argument was held in April 2010.

In Cleary, which was pending in an Illinois federal court, the
district court dismissed plaintiffs' "Lights" claims against one
defendant and denied plaintiffs' request to remand the case to
state court.  In September 2009, the court issued its ruling on PM
USA's and the remaining defendants' motion for summary judgment as
to all "Lights" claims.  The court granted the motion as to all
defendants except PM USA.  As to PM USA, the court granted the
motion as to all "Lights" and other low tar brands other than
Marlboro Lights.  As to Marlboro Lights, the court ordered
briefing on why the 2002 state court order dismissing the Marlboro
Lights claims should not be vacated based upon Good.  In January
2010, the court vacated the previous dismissal.  In February 2010,
the court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants as to
all claims except for the Marlboro Lights claims, based on the
statute of limitations and deficiencies relating to the named
plaintiffs.  In June 2010, the court granted summary judgment in
favor of all defendants on all remaining claims, dismissing the
case.  In July 2010, plaintiffs filed a motion for reconsideration
with the district court, which was denied.  In August 2010,
plaintiffs filed an appeal with the United States Court of Appeals
for the Seventh Circuit.  In August 2011, the Seventh Circuit
affirmed the trial court's dismissal of the case.  Plaintiffs'
petition for rehearing was denied by the Seventh Circuit on
November 15, 2011.

                       Other Developments

In December 2009, the state trial court in the Carroll (formerly
known as Holmes) case (pending in Delaware), denied PM USA's
motion for summary judgment based on an exemption provision in the
Delaware Consumer Fraud Act.  In January 2011, the trial court
allowed the plaintiffs to file an amended complaint substituting
class representatives and naming Altria Group, Inc. and PMI as
additional defendants.  In July 2011, the parties stipulated to
the dismissal without prejudice of Altria Group, Inc. and PMI.
The stipulation is signed by the parties but not yet approved by
the trial court.

In June 2007, the United States Supreme Court reversed the lower
court rulings in the Watson case that denied plaintiffs' motion to
have the case heard in a state, as opposed to federal, trial
court.  The Supreme Court rejected defendants' contention that the
case must be tried in federal court under the "federal officer"
statute.  The case was removed to federal court in Arkansas and
the case was transferred to the MDL proceeding.  In November 2010,
the district court in the MDL proceeding remanded the Watson case
to Arkansas state court.  On December 19, 2011, the plaintiffs
voluntarily dismissed their claims against Altria Group, Inc.
without prejudice.

                         The Price Case

Trial in the Price case commenced in state court in Illinois in
January 2003, and in March 2003, the judge found in favor of the
plaintiff class and awarded $7.1 billion in compensatory damages
and $3 billion in punitive damages against PM USA.  In December
2005, the Illinois Supreme Court reversed the trial court's
judgment in favor of the plaintiffs.  In November 2006, the United
States Supreme Court denied plaintiffs' petition for writ of
certiorari and, in December 2006, the Circuit Court of Madison
County enforced the Illinois Supreme Court's mandate and dismissed
the case with prejudice.

In December 2008, plaintiffs filed with the trial court a petition
for relief from the final judgment that was entered in favor of PM
USA.  Specifically, plaintiffs sought to vacate the judgment
entered by the trial court on remand from the 2005 Illinois
Supreme Court decision overturning the verdict on the ground that
that the United States Supreme Court's December 2008 decision in
Good demonstrated that the Illinois Supreme Court's decision was
"inaccurate."  PM USA filed a motion to dismiss plaintiffs'
petition and, in February 2009, the trial court granted PM USA's
motion on the basis that the petition was not timely filed.  In
March 2009, the Price plaintiffs filed a notice of appeal with the
Fifth Judicial District of the Appellate Court of Illinois.  In
February 2011, the intermediate appellate court ruled that the
petition was timely filed and reversed the trial court's dismissal
of the plaintiffs' petition and, in September 2011, the Illinois
Supreme Court declined PM USA's petition for review.  As a result,
the case has returned to the trial court for proceedings on
whether the court should grant the plaintiffs' petition to reopen
the prior judgment.

In June 2009, the plaintiff in an individual smoker lawsuit
(Kelly) brought on behalf of an alleged smoker of "Lights"
cigarettes in Madison County, Illinois state court filed a motion
seeking a declaration that his claims under the Illinois Consumer
Fraud Act are not (1) barred by the exemption in that statute
based on his assertion that the Illinois Supreme Court's decision
in Price is no longer good law in light of the decisions by the
United States Supreme Court in Good and Watson, and (2) preempted
in light of the United States Supreme Court's decision in Good.
In September 2009, the court granted plaintiff's motion as to
federal preemption, but denied it with respect to the state
statutory exemption.

             State Trial Court Class Certifications

State trial courts have certified classes against PM USA in
Massachusetts (Aspinall), Minnesota (Curtis), Missouri (Larsen)
and New Hampshire (Lawrence).  Significant developments in these
cases include:

   * Aspinall: In August 2004, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial
Court affirmed the class certification order.  In August 2006, the
trial court denied PM USA's motion for summary judgment and
granted plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment on the defenses of
federal preemption and a state law exemption to Massachusetts'
consumer protection statute.  On motion of the parties, the trial
court subsequently reported its decision to deny summary judgment
to the appeals court for review and stayed further proceedings
pending completion of the appellate review.  In December 2008,
subsequent to the United States Supreme Court's decision in Good,
the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued an order
requesting that the parties advise the court within 30 days
whether the Good decision is dispositive of federal preemption
issues pending on appeal.  In January 2009, PM USA notified the
Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court that Good is dispositive of
the federal preemption issues on appeal, but requested further
briefing on the state law statutory exemption issue.  In March
2009, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affirmed the order
denying summary judgment to PM USA and granting the plaintiffs'
cross-motion. In January 2010, plaintiffs moved for partial
summary judgment as to liability claiming collateral estoppel from
the findings in the case brought by the Department of Justice.
Argument on plaintiffs' motion was held in July 2011.

   * Curtis: In April 2005, the Minnesota Supreme Court denied PM
USA's petition for interlocutory review of the trial court's class
certification order.  In October 2009, the trial court denied
plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment, filed in February
2009, claiming collateral estoppel from the findings in the case
brought by the Department of Justice.  In October 2009, the trial
court granted PM USA's motion for partial summary judgment as to
all consumer protection counts and, in December 2009, dismissed
the case in its entirety.  In December 2010, the Minnesota Court
of Appeals reversed the trial court's dismissal of the case and
affirmed the trial court's prior certification of the class under
Minnesota's consumer protection statutes.  The Court of Appeals
also affirmed the trial court's denial of the plaintiffs' motion
for partial summary judgment claiming collateral estoppel from the
findings in the case brought by the Department of Justice.  PM
USA's petition for review with the Minnesota Supreme Court was
granted in March 2011.  Argument on the petition was heard in
September 2011.

   * Larsen: In August 2005, a Missouri Court of Appeals affirmed
the class certification order.  In December 2009, the trial court
denied plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration of the period during
which potential class members can qualify to become part of the
class.  The class period remains 1995 - 2003.  In June 2010, PM
USA's motion for partial summary judgment regarding plaintiffs'
request for punitive damages was denied.  In April 2010,
plaintiffs moved for partial summary judgment as to an element of
liability in the case, claiming collateral estoppel from the
findings in the case brought by the Department of Justice.  The
plaintiffs' motion was denied in December 2010.  In June 2011, PM
USA filed various summary judgment motions challenging the
plaintiffs' claims.  On August 31, 2011, the trial court granted
PM USA's motion for partial summary judgment, ruling that
plaintiffs could not present a damages claim based on allegations
that Marlboro Lights are more dangerous than Marlboro Reds.  The
trial court denied PM USA's remaining summary judgment motions.
Trial in the case began in September 2011 and, in October 2011 the
court declared a mistrial after the jury failed to reach a
verdict.  The court has scheduled a new trial to begin on January
21, 2013.

   * Lawrence: In November 2010, the trial court certified a class
consisting of all persons who purchased Marlboro Lights cigarettes
in the state of New Hampshire at any time from the date the brand
was introduced into commerce until the date trial in the case
begins.  PM USA's motion for reconsideration of this decision was
denied in January 2011.  In September 2011, the New Hampshire
Supreme Court accepted review of the class certification decision.

ALTRIA GROUP: Mediation in Kraft Thrift Plan Cases Ongoing
Parties in the class action lawsuits relating to the Kraft Foods
Global, Inc. Thrift Plan are currently in mediation, according to
Altria Group, Inc.'s January 27, 2012, Form 8-K filing with the
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Four participants in the Kraft Foods Global, Inc. Thrift Plan
("Kraft Thrift Plan"), a defined contribution plan, filed a class
action complaint (George II) on behalf of all participants and
beneficiaries of the Kraft Thrift Plan in July 2008 in the United
States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
alleging breach of fiduciary duty under the Employee Retirement
Income Security Act ("ERISA").  Named defendants in this action
include Altria Corporate Services, Inc. (now Altria Client
Services Inc.) and certain company committees that allegedly had a
relationship to the Kraft Thrift Plan.  Plaintiffs request, among
other remedies, that defendants restore to the Kraft Thrift Plan
all losses improperly incurred.

In December 2009, the court granted in part and denied in part
defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiffs' complaint.  In addition
to dismissing certain claims made by plaintiffs for equitable
relief under ERISA as to all defendants, the court dismissed
claims alleging excessive administrative fees and mismanagement of
company stock funds as to one of the Altria Group, Inc.
defendants.  In February 2010, the court granted a joint
stipulation dismissing the fee and stock fund claims without
prejudice as to the remaining defendants, including Altria
Corporate Services, Inc.  Accordingly, the only claim remaining at
this time in George II relates to the alleged negligence of plan
fiduciaries for including the Growth Equity Fund and Balanced Fund
as Kraft Thrift Plan investment options.  Plaintiffs filed a
motion for class certification in March 2010, which the court
granted in August 2010.  Defendants filed a motion for summary
judgment in January 2011, and plaintiffs filed a motion for
partial summary judgment.  In March 2011, defendants filed a
motion to vacate the class certification in light of recent
federal judicial precedent.  In July 2011, the court granted
defendants' summary judgment motion in part, finding that claims
for periods prior to July 2, 2002, were time barred, and that the
defendants properly monitored the funds.  The court also denied
plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment.  Remaining in the
case are claims after July 2, 2002, relating to whether it was
prudent to retain actively managed investments (Growth Equity Fund
and Balanced Fund) in the Kraft Thrift Plan after 1999.  In July
2011, the court also granted defendants' motion to vacate the
class certification, and allowed plaintiffs leave to file a new
motion for class certification in light of recent precedent and
the court's summary judgment findings.  Plaintiffs' motion to
certify the class is pending before the court.

In August 2011, Altria Client Services, Inc. and a company
committee that allegedly had a relationship to the Kraft Thrift
Plan were added as defendants in another class action previously
brought by the same plaintiffs in 2006 (George I), in which
plaintiffs allege defendants breached their fiduciary duties under
ERISA by offering company stock funds in a unitized format and by
allegedly overpaying for recordkeeping services.

The Altria Group, Inc. defendants deny any violation of ERISA or
other unlawful conduct and are defending these cases vigorously.
The parties are currently in mediation.  Absent a resolution,
trial in both cases is expected to be scheduled to occur in the
first half of 2012.  Under the terms of a Distribution Agreement
between Altria Group, Inc. and Kraft, the Altria Group, Inc.
defendants may be entitled to indemnity against any liabilities
incurred in connection with these cases.

ALTRIA GROUP: Still Defends Smoking and Health Class Suits
Since the dismissal in May 1996 of a purported nationwide class
action brought on behalf of allegedly addicted smokers, plaintiffs
have filed numerous putative smoking and health class action
lawsuits in various state and federal courts.  In general, these
cases purport to be brought on behalf of residents of a particular
state or states (although a few cases purport to be nationwide in
scope) and raise addiction claims and, in many cases, claims of
physical injury as well.

Class certification has been denied or reversed by courts in 59
smoking and health class actions involving PM USA in Arkansas (1),
California (1), the District of Columbia (2), Florida (2),
Illinois (3), Iowa (1), Kansas (1), Louisiana (1), Maryland (1),
Michigan (1), Minnesota (1), Nevada (29), New Jersey (6), New York
(2), Ohio (1), Oklahoma (1), Pennsylvania (1), Puerto Rico (1),
South Carolina (1), Texas (1) and Wisconsin (1).

Altria Group, Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary, Philip Morris
USA Inc. ("PM USA"), are named as defendants, along with other
cigarette manufacturers, in six actions filed in the Canadian
provinces of Alberta, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan and
British Columbia.  In Saskatchewan and British Columbia,
plaintiffs seek class certification on behalf of individuals who
suffer or have suffered from various diseases including chronic
obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema, heart disease or cancer
after smoking defendants' cigarettes.  In the actions filed in
Alberta, Manitoba and Nova Scotia, plaintiffs seek certification
of classes of all individuals who smoked defendants' cigarettes.

No further updates were reported in the Company's January 27,
2012, Form 8-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange

ALTRIA GROUP: Trial in "Smith" Antitrust Suit Set for July 16
Trial in an antitrust class action lawsuit pending in Kansas is
set for July 16, 2012, according to Altria Group, Inc.'s
January 27, 2012, Form 8-K filing with the U.S. Securities and
Exchange Commission.

As of December 31, 2011, one case remains pending in Kansas
(Smith) in which plaintiffs allege that defendants, including
Altria Group, Inc. and its wholly owned subsidiary, Philip Morris
USA Inc. ("PM USA"), conspired to fix cigarette prices in
violation of antitrust laws.  Plaintiffs' motion for class
certification has been granted.  Trial has been set for July 16,

ALTRIA GROUP: Unit Seeks to Dismiss Wage and Hour Suit Claims
A subsidiary of Altria Group, Inc. moved to dismiss certain of
plaintiffs' claims in a wage and hour class action lawsuit pending
in California, according to the Company's January 27, 2012, Form
8-K filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

In September 2011, two former sales representatives employed in
California by Altria Group Distribution Company ("AGDC") filed a
putative class action in the United States District Court for the
Northern District of California, under California's wage and hour
laws.  The named plaintiffs seek to represent a class of all
former sales representatives who worked for AGDC in California at
any time since September 2007.  The plaintiffs seek overtime pay,
recovery of certain wages, reimbursement of business expenses and
other non-monetary relief and penalties.  On November 9, 2011, the
plaintiffs amended their complaint to add an additional claim for
penalties under California's Private Attorney General Act.

On January 6, 2012, AGDC moved to dismiss certain of plaintiffs'
claims and to transfer the case from the Northern District of
California to the Central District of California.

ARCTIC CAT: Recalls 19,000 Snowmobiles Due to Crash Hazard
About 19,000 Arctic Cat Snowmobiles were voluntarily recalled by
Arctic Cat Inc., of Thief River Falls, Minnesota, in cooperation
with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.  These models
were previously recalled in December 2011
Consumers should stop using the product immediately unless
otherwise instructed.  It is illegal to resell or attempt to
resell a recalled consumer product.

The lower steering tie-rod attachment can loosen and cause loss of
steering control, posing a crash hazard.

Arctic Cat has received four reports of incidents, including one
complete loss of steering control.  No injuries have been

The recall involves the 2012 model year of the F, XF, and M model

   Model       Model Name/Number
   -----       -----------------
    F          F800 LXR, F1100 LXR, F800 Sno Pro, F1100 Turbos,
               F1100 Sno Pro/Limited/50th

    XF         XF800 LXR, XF1100 LXR, XF800 Sno Pro High Country,
               XF1100 Turbos, XF100 Limited/50th

    M          M800, M1100, M800 Sno Pro, M1100 Sno
               Pro/Limited/50th, M800 HCR, M1100 Turbos

The model name is located on each side of the hood.  The
snowmobiles were sold in a variety of these color combinations:
black, white and orange, black and orange, black and green and
white and green.  Pictures of the recalled products are available
at: http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml12/12716.html

The recalled products were manufactured in the United States of
America and sold at Arctic Cat dealerships nationwide from May
2011 through December 2011 for between $10,500 and $14,500.

Consumers should immediately stop using these snowmobiles and
contact their local Arctic Cat snowmobile dealer to schedule a
free inspection and repair.  Arctic Cat has notified owners of
these snowmobiles directly by mail.  For additional information,
call Arctic Cat at (800) 279-6851 between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Central Time Monday through Friday or visit the firm's Web site at

BALLY TOTAL: Faces Class Action Over Gym Lifetime Memberships
Courthouse News Service reports that LA Fitness refuses to honor
the lifetime memberships of individuals who signed up with Bally
Total Fitness, though the gym assumed that responsibility by
acquiring Bally in November 2011, a class claims.

A copy of the Complaint in Fridman, et al. v. Bally Total Fitness
Holding Corporation, et al., Case No. 12-cv-00707 (C.D. Calif.),
is available at:


The Plaintiffs are represented by:

          Lionel Z. Glancy, Esq.
          Marc L. Godino, Esq.
          1925 Century Park East, Suite 2100
          Los Angeles, CA 90067
          Telephone: (310) 201-9150
          E-mail: lglancy@glancylaw.com

               - and -

          Sherrie R. Savett, Esq.
          Michael T. Fantini, Esq.
          Eric Lechtzin, Esq.
          BERGER & MONTAGUE, P.C.
          1622 Locust Street
          Philadelphia, PA 19103
          Telephone: (215) 875-3000
          E-mail: ssavett@bm.net

BAPTIST HOSPITAL: Feb. 21 Deadline Set for Settlement Objection
Richard Craver, writing for Winston-Salem Journal, reports that a
group of 134 class members of a federal lawsuit involving N.C.
Baptist Hospital will be given until Feb. 21 to file an objection
to a settlement announced in September.

The settlement represents a potential conclusion of a lawsuit
filed in January 2009 involving MedCost, which Baptist co-owns
with Carolinas HealthCare System.

Baptist and certain affiliates' group health plans have been
accused of requiring employees to pay more in fees for health
benefits than other corporate clients pay.

The lawsuit said Baptist "violated the duties, responsibilities
and obligations imposed upon them as a fiduciary" under the
federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act.  ERISA prohibits
most employers from using companies they own to provide health
benefits for employees unless they can show they are putting
workers' interests first.

The lawsuit involves more than 14,000 current and former employees
and their families.  Those eligible for the settlement
participated in the plan from March 6, 2002, to May 7, 2009.
Participants made contributions of between $9 million and $13
million a year beginning in March 2002, the lawsuit said.

A preliminary settlement of $5.38 million was approved by U.S.
District Judge James Beaty Jr.  About $4.14 million is expected to
be left in the fund after attorney fees are paid.  The five
primary plaintiffs will each get $4,000 in compensation.

A final fairness hearing is set for 10:00 a.m. Feb. 24.
Plaintiffs get a chance to object to the terms of the second phase
of the settlement.

The deadline for filing objections was Jan. 16. The plaintiffs and
Baptist agreed the 134 class members were not included by mistake
in the notice of the second phase.  The combined compensation for
them is estimated at less than $15,000.

BLITT AND GAINES: Sued Over Unlicensed Debt Collection in Ill.
Elizabeth ("Libby") Gibbs, on behalf of herself and the classes
defined below v. Blitt and Gaines, P.C., Case No. 2012-CH-03381
(Ill. Cir. Ct., Cook Cty., January 31, 2012) seeks redress for the
conduct of defendant in taking collection actions that were
prohibited by the Illinois Collection Agency Act.

The Plaintiff alleges that between January 1, 2008, and May 12,
2009, and although unlicensed, Cach, LLC, instituted debt
collection lawsuits against more than 100 Illinois consumers.
Blitt and Gaines represented Cach in many of its lawsuits against
Illinois consumers.  Ms. Gibbs asserts that Blitt and Gaines
regularly brought lawsuits and obtained and enforced judgments on
behalf of unlicensed entities.

Ms. Gibbs is a resident of Mackinaw, Illinois.

Blitt and Gaines, P.C., is a law firm organized as an Illinois
professional corporation, with in Wheeling, Illinois.  Blitt and
Gaines is engaged in the collection of allegedly delinquent
consumer debts originally owed to others.

The Plaintiff is represented by:

          Daniel A. Edelman, Esq.
          Cathleen M. Combs, Esq.
          James O. Latturner, Esq.
          Thomas E. Soule, Esq.
          120 S. LaSalle Street, Suite 1800
          Chicago, IL 60603
          Telephone: (312) 739-4200
          Facsimile: (312) 419-0379
          E-mail: courtecl@edcombs.com

CARNIVAL CORP: Crew Member Files Class Action in Illinois
Jack Bouboushian at Courthouse News Service reports that a crew
member of the cruise ship that ran aground off Italy claims in a
federal class action that Carnival Corp.'s practice of sailing too
close to shore, to "present a spectacle," killed at least 16
people and endangered 4,000 more.

Gary Lobaton, a native of Peru, sued Panama-based Carnival Corp.,
and its United Kingdom and Italian affiliates, Carnival PLC and
Costa Crociere S.p.A.

Mr. Lobaton was a crew member of the Costa Concordia, whose
captain became an international pariah when he allegedly abandoned
ship after grounding it on rocks off the coast of Italy.

Mr. Lobaton seeks to represent all the passengers and employees on
board the Costa Concordia on Jan. 13, when it sank near Isola del

"To date 16 bodies have been recovered and 16 more remain
missing," the complaint states.

Italian officials said on Jan. 31 that they have called off the
search for more bodies, with the toll at 17 confirmed dead and 15

Mr. Lobaton says in his complaint that when the hull was breached
"Costa Concordia's Captain, Francesco Schettino, delayed the order
to abandon ship and deploy the lifeboats."

The complaint states: "According to reports, Captain Schettino's
decision to sail close to Isola del Giglio was attributed by the
captain to the defendants' management in putting him under intense
pressure to sail the cruise ship close to the island in order to
present a spectacle to Costa Concordia's passengers.
"During a telephone conversation with his friend in the hours
after he was arrested, Captain Schettino said: 'Management was
always saying 'pass by there, pass by there.'  Someone else in my
position might not have been so amenable to pass so close but they
busted my balls, pass by there, pass by there, and now I'm paying
for it.'

"Captain Schettino attributed his action to the cruise company
encouraging the practice of sailing close to the island because it
was good 'publicity' and went down well with passengers in the
increasingly competitive cruise ship business."

Mr. Lobaton adds: "Captain Schettino, instead of being the last
man to leave the vessel and using all reasonable efforts to assure
that all passengers and crew members are evacuated to safety,
breached his duty as the master of his vessel, and abandoned his
ship in the first available opportunity he had.

"Based on a recording of a telephone conversation between the
captain and the port authority, Captain Schettino was ordered by
the coastguard to return to the stricken vessel after he claimed
that the evacuation was almost complete when it had scarcely
begun. . . .

"Due to Captain Schettino's cowardly and reckless action and
defendants' negligent practice, 16 people are dead and 16 more
remain missing and over 4,000 people have suffered damages and
continue to suffer damages."

Carnival Corporation "is the largest vacation company in the
world," the complaint states.  "Its portfolio of leading cruise
bands [sic] includes Carnival Cruise Lines, Holland America Line,
Princess Cruises and Seabourn in North America," and it caters to
more than 8.5 million guests per year.

Mr. Lobaton seeks punitive damages for violation of the Athens
Convention, breach of contract, negligence, and unjust enrichment.

A copy of the Complaint in Lobaton v. Carnival Corporation, et
al., Case No.12-cv-00598 (N.D. Ill.), is available at:


The Plaintiff is represented by:

          Manuel von Ribbeck, Esq.
          Monica R. Kelly, Esq.
          505 N. Lake Shore Drive
          Lake Point Tower
          Chicago, IL, 60611
          Telephone (312) 822-9999
          E-mail: monicakelly@ribbecklaw.com

CLARCOR INC: Awaits Approval of Deal in MDL Proceeding vs. Unit
CLARCOR Inc. is awaiting a court decision on plaintiffs' motion
for preliminary approval of a settlement of the multidistrict
litigation involving its subsidiary, according to the Company's
January 27, 2012, Form 10-K filing with the U.S. Securities and
Exchange Commission for the year ended December 3, 2011.

On March 31, 2008, S&E Quick Lube, a filter distributor, filed a
lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut
alleging that virtually every major North American engine filter
manufacturer, including the Company's subsidiary, Baldwin Filters,
Inc. (the "Defendant Group" and "Baldwin," respectively), engaged
in a conspiracy to fix prices, rig bids and allocate U.S.
customers for aftermarket filters.  The lawsuit is a purported
class action on behalf of direct purchasers of filters from the
Defendant Group.  Parallel purported class actions, including on
behalf of indirect purchasers of filters, have been filed by other
plaintiffs against the Defendant Group in a variety of
jurisdictions in the United States and Canada.  In addition, the
Attorneys General of the State of Florida and the County of
Suffolk, New York filed complaints against the Defendant Group
based on these same allegations, and the Attorney General of the
State of Washington requested various documents, information and
cooperation, which the Company agreed to provide.  All of the U.S
cases, including the actions brought by and/or on behalf of
governmental entities, were consolidated into a single multi-
district litigation in front of the Hon. Robert W. Gettleman in
the Northern District of Illinois (the "Court").  The Company has
consistently denied any wrongdoing whatsoever and vigorously
defended the action at significant expense.

On June 24, 2011, William Burch, a former employee of two other
defendants in the Defendant Group and the key initiator of the
lawsuits, and key witness for the plaintiffs, pleaded guilty to a
charge brought by the United States Attorney for the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania of making false statements to the United
States Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice ("DOJ").
In pleading guilty to this charge, Mr. Burch admitted that he
fabricated certain key evidence relevant to the lawsuits at issue
and thereafter lied about it to the DOJ.  On October 26, 2011, Mr.
Burch was sentenced to two years in prison for this crime.

On October 7, 2011, Baldwin entered into a settlement agreement
("Settlement Agreement") with the putative plaintiff classes
involved in the action, including the State of Florida.  Pursuant
to the terms of the Settlement Agreement, Baldwin denied any
wrongdoing whatsoever but agreed to pay a total of $625 thousand
to a settlement fund to be divided among the plaintiff classes in
exchange for a full and complete release of all claims with
prejudice.  Two other members of the Defendant Group, Donaldson
Company, Inc. ("Donaldson") and Cummins, Inc. ("Cummins"), also
entered into substantially identical settlement agreements with
the putative plaintiff classes at the same time as Baldwin.

The Company says it entered into the Settlement Agreement to free
itself from the expense of ongoing litigation, which was
anticipated to be many times greater than the agreed settlement
amount.  The $625 thousand settlement amount has been fully
reserved by the Company.  The Settlement Agreement will become
effective after the Court enters a final judgment order approving
the Settlement Agreement and dismissing the causes of action
against Baldwin with prejudice and without costs, and the time for
appealing the foregoing expires.  The Company is unable to predict
when these conditions will be satisfied, but the Company is
unaware of any objections or obstacles, and believes that these
conditions will be satisfied in due course and in keeping with
normal judicial time lines.  On October 10, 2011, the plaintiffs
filed an omnibus motion for preliminary approval of the Settlement
Agreement (and the settlement agreements with Donaldson and
Cummins), certification of settlement classes, appointment of
class counsel for the settlement classes, authorization to
disseminate notice to settlement classes, and setting a hearing on
final settlement approval, which motion is currently pending
before the Court.

EMULEX CORP: Securities Suit vs. Unit Closed and Concluded
The last remaining appeal from the approval of a 2009 settlement
of a securities class action lawsuit against a subsidiary of
Emulex Corporation was dismissed in January, closing and
concluding the litigation, according to the Company's January 27,
2012, Form 10-Q filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange
Commission for the quarter ended January 1, 2012.

On November 15, 2001, prior to the Company's acquisition of Vixel
Corporation, a securities class action lawsuit was filed in the
United States District Court in the Southern District of New York
as Case No. 01 CIV. 10053 (SAS), Master File No. 21 MC92 (SAS)
against Vixel and two of its officers and directors (one of which
is James M. McCluney, the Company's current Chief Executive
Officer) and certain underwriters who participated in the Vixel
initial public offering in late 1999.  The amended complaint
alleged violations under Section 10(b) of the Exchange Act and
Section 11 of the Securities Act and sought unspecified damages on
behalf of persons who purchased Vixel stock during the period
October 1, 1999, through December 6, 2000.

On April 2, 2009, the parties signed a Stipulation and Agreement
of Settlement (the 2009 Settlement) to the District Court for
preliminary approval.  The District Court granted the plaintiffs'
motion for preliminary approval and preliminarily certified the
settlement classes on June 10, 2009.  The settlement "fairness"
hearing was held on September 10, 2009.  On October 6, 2009, the
District Court entered an opinion granting final approval to the
settlement and directing that the Clerk of the District Court
close these actions.  The 2009 Settlement provides for Emulex to
pay zero and for insurers to pay the entire settlement amount of
$586 million for all defendants.  Notices of appeal of the opinion
granting final approval were originally filed by six groups of

On January 10, 2012, the last remaining appellant dismissed his
appeal, permitting the 2009 Settlement to close and conclude this

ENER1 INC: Awaits Decision on Motions to Consolidate N.Y. Suits
Ener1, Inc. is awaiting court decision on motions to consolidate
three securities class action lawsuits pending in New York,
according to the Company's January 27, 2012, Form 8-K/A filing
with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

On January 26, 2012 (the "Petition Date"), Ener1, Inc. (the
"Company" or "Debtor") filed a voluntary petition in the United
States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York (the
"Bankruptcy Court") seeking relief under the provisions of Chapter
11 ("Chapter 11") of Title 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code
( "Bankruptcy Code").  The Chapter 11 case is being administered
under the caption "In re Ener1, Inc.," Case No. 12-10299 (the
"Chapter 11 Case").  The Company remains in possession of its
assets and continues to operate its business as a debtor-in-
possession under the jurisdiction of the Bankruptcy Court and in
accordance with the applicable provisions of the Bankruptcy Code
and the orders of the Bankruptcy Court.

On August 18, 2011, two putative class action lawsuits were filed
against the Debtor and certain of its officers and directors in
the United States District Court for the Southern District of New
York (Beckman v. Ener1, Inc. et al., No. 11-CV-5794 (S.D.N.Y.);
and Neufeld v. Ener1, Inc., et al., No. 11-CV-5795 (S.D.N.Y.)).
On August 26, 2011, a third putative class action lawsuit was
filed against the same defendants in the United States District
Court for the Southern District of New York (Foster v. Ener1,
Inc., et al., No. 11-CV-6040 (S.D.N.Y.)).  Pursuant to Section
510(b) of the Bankruptcy Code, the claims asserted in each of
these litigations, which seek damages arising from the purchase or
sale of securities, are subordinated and treated as common stock
and therefore are not entitled to any recovery.

The complaints in each of these actions seek damages on behalf of
persons who purchased Ener1 securities between January 10, 2011,
and August 15, 2011.  The complaints assert claims under the
Securities Exchange Act of 1934 for alleged material
misrepresentations and omissions in the Debtor's public
disclosures during the putative class period, and in particular
disclosures relating to the Debtor's loans to, and receivables
with, Think Holdings.  On October 17, 2011, three competing
motions for appointment of lead plaintiff were filed.  Each of the
proposed lead plaintiff groups has also requested that the three
lawsuits be consolidated.

GOLD COAST, AUSTRALIA: Faces Class Action Over Suntown Tip
Lucy Ardern, writing for Gold Coast, reports that more than 10,000
people could be part of a multimillion-dollar class action against
Gold Coast City Council after years of problems with the Suntown

Class action specialist law firm Shine Lawyers partner Rebecca
Jancauskas said the firm had organized a meeting on Jan. 30 at the
Parkwood-Arundel Community Centre in Napper Road for residents who
believe their property values have been affected by the tip.

About 200 homes are in the "critical zone" that Shine Lawyers is
most focused on, including Petworth Court and Arun Drive where
residents have complained for years about noise, dust and safety

Despite the fact the council closed the tip to everything except
green waste late in 2010, some problems have continued and several
residents still have methane gas meters with alarms in their homes
and back yards that wake them up during the night.

Ms. Jancauskas said the council and the State Government might be
liable because of how they had handled problems associated with
the tip and the delay in closing it.

She said a class action could include residents throughout Arundel
-- which has more than 4,000 homes -- since a stigma had been
attached to the suburb due to the tip.

GREEN MOUNTAIN: Judge Dismisses Accounting Fraud Class Action
Dan D'Ambrosio, writing for Burlington Free Press, reports that a
federal judge in Burlington dismissed a class action lawsuit filed
against Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. that alleges
accounting fraud, but left the door open for the plaintiffs to
re-file their lawsuit within 30 days.

U.S. District Judge Williams Sessions III dismissed the lawsuit on
Friday, saying the plaintiffs -- a group of investors in Green
Mountain Coffee -- had not presented any facts in their case that
indicated a "strong inference" of fraud.

The lawsuit was filed in the wake of Green Mountain Coffee's
revelation in September 2010 that the U.S. Securities and Exchange
Commission had launched an inquiry into its accounting practices.

The company has since restated its financial statements from
fiscal years 2006 to 2010, acknowledging overstatements of income
totaling about $9 million because of accounting errors, but
denying any misconduct.  The Securities and Exchange Commission
inquiry remains open, and Green Mountain Coffee says it is
continuing to cooperate with the SEC.

In his decision, Judge Sessions characterized Green Mountain
Coffee's restatement as "relatively small."

"The fact that the restatement was a collection of several small
mistakes, rather than a single, large error, also minimizes any
fraudulent reading," Judge Sessions wrote.

Randall Bodner, a partner at Ropes & Gray in Boston, who
represented Green Mountain Coffee at the Jan. 5 hearing where the
company asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed, said on Jan. 30 the
plaintiffs simply didn't have a case.

"In federal court plaintiffs have to meet certain pleading
requirements," Mr. Bodner said.  "They can't just come in and
claim there was a wrong without providing some meat to the bone of
their claim, and in my view there wasn't much bone let alone any
meat.  The court felt that the plaintiffs had not met their
pleading burden."

At the heart of the lawsuit was the allegation that Green Mountain
Coffee showed revenue on its books from shipments of products to
its main fulfillment company, M. Block and Sons Inc. in Bedford
Park, Ill., before M. Block shipped the product to retail chain
customers.  This inflated the coffee company's revenue figures and
misled investors, the lawsuit claimed.

Attorney David Rosenfeld of Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd LLP in
Melville, N.Y., who represented the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, did
not return a call for comment on Jan. 30.

Mr. Bodner said he expected Mr. Rosenfeld to amend and re-file the
complaint within the 30-day deadline set by Sessions.

"I fully expect they'll take another shot at it, just because
they're not going to walk away easily," Mr. Bodner said.  "We in
the company will deal with whatever they put in front of us."

Another class action lawsuit, filed on Nov. 29 by the Louisiana
Municipal Police Employees' Retirement System, also alleges that
Green Mountain Coffee falsified financial records to cast a rosier
picture of its performance than was true, misleading investors and
costing them billions of dollars -- charges the coffee roaster

The lawsuit from the Louisiana pension fund is largely based on
allegations made by hedge fund manager David Einhorn at an Oct. 17
investors' forum in New York City in which Mr. Einhorn questioned
the validity of Green Mountain Coffee's financial performance.
After the presentation, the stock price dropped by about 10
percent in one day, from $92.09 to $82.50.

Mr. Einhorn is known in the financial community as a "short
seller" who benefits from a drop in stock price.  Mr. Einhorn's
fund, Greenlight Capital, held a short position in Green Mountain
Coffee Roasters.  On Jan. 25, Reuters reported that Mr. Einhorn
and Greenlight Capital were fined $11 million by British
regulators for using inside information in a stock sale of a
United Kingdom pub chain.

At the Jan. 5 hearing on the lawsuit dismissed on Jan. 27, an
attorney from the law firm representing the Louisiana Municipal
Police Employees' Retirement System asked Judge Sessions to block
Mr. Rosenfeld from broadening his client's lawsuit -- if he amends
it -- to include the class period of the pension fund's lawsuit,
from Feb. 2 to Nov. 9.  That period would include Mr. Einhorn's
presentation on Oct. 17.

Judge Sessions did not address that request in his ruling on
Jan. 27, saying only that the plaintiffs represented by Rosenfeld
have 30 days to "evaluate their allegations in light of this
opinion and determine whether to amend."

Mr. Bodner, representing Green Mountain Coffee, said on Jan. 30 he
was surprised by the argument that has emerged between the
plaintiffs in the two lawsuits filed against the Waterbury-based

"It was a little bit like rival gangs trying to stake out their
territory," Mr. Bodner said.  "I have not seen that before."

Mr. Bodner can be reached at:

          Randall Bodner, Esq.
          ROPES & GRAY
          Prudential Tower
          800 Boylston Street
          Boston, MA 02199-3600
          Telephone: (617) 951-7776
          E-mail: randall.bodner@ropesgray.com

INT'L VACATION: Sued Over Condo Deal Bait & Switch Tactics
Joe Harris at Courthouse News Service reports that International
Vacation Services uses and bait switch tactics on its condominium
user agreements, a class action claims in St. Louis County Court.

Lead plaintiff Gerald Sonderman says International promised that
for $4,593, he could buy two weeks in a condo with access to a
personal concierge travel service to help him book additional
travel services at discounted prices.

Mr. Sonderman says International reneged on the deal when he
called to book his two weeks at the condo.

"The representative informed Sonderman that he was not entitled to
two weeks of condominium usage, but that the company only acted as
a travel agent, and could make reservations for him," the
complaint states.

Mr. Sonderman says he asked for a refund and International

Mr. Sonderman says he was suckered after getting an unsolicited
postcard at his home from "an entity identifying itself as Travel
Services Unlimited."

He says he went to the sales pitch, where he signed the Membership
Enrollment Agreement that did not include Travel Services
Unlimited, but was between him South Carolina-based International
Vacation Services.

He seeks punitive damages for violations of the Missouri
Merchandising Practices Act.

A copy of the Complaint in Sonderman v. International Vacation
Services LLC, Case No. _____ (Mo. Cir. Ct., St. Louis Cty.), is
available at:


The Plaintiff is represented by:

          David T. Butsch, Esq.
          James J. Simeri, Esq.
          231 S. Bemiston Ave., Ste. 260
          Clayton, MO 63105
          Telephone: (314) 863-5700
          E-mail: butsch@bsflawfirm.com

K12 INC: Faruqi & Faruqi Files Securities Class Action
Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP on Jan. 31 disclosed that it has filed a
securities class action lawsuit against K12, Inc. and certain of
its senior executives.  The action (no. 1:12-cv-00103-CMH-IDD),
filed in the United States District Court for the Eastern District
of Virginia, asserts claims under the Securities Exchange Act of
1934 on behalf of investors in K12 common stock during the period
between September 9, 2009 and December 16, 2011, inclusive.

A copy of the complaint can be viewed on the firm's Web site at

K12 and certain of its senior executives are charged with issuing
a series of materially false and misleading statements in
violation of Section 10(b) and 20(a) of the Exchange Act and Rule
10b-5 promulgated thereunder.  Specifically, on December 12, 2011,
The New York Times released an article titled "Profits and
Questions at Online Charter Schools" chronicling a myriad of
improper practices at K12's main virtual charter schools,
including (i) high-pressure sales strategies aimed strictly at
enrolling students, irrespective of the students' suitability for
online education; (ii) administrative pressure to pass enrolled
students, regardless of academic performance; and (iii) overall
failure of K12 students to maintain grade-level performance in
math and reading.  On this news, the price of K12 stock dropped
34.4%, or $9.89 per share, from a closing price of $28.79 on
December 12, 2011, to a closing price of $18.90 per share on
December 16, 2011, on unusually heavy trading volume.

The true facts known by the defendants but concealed from the
investing public during the Class Period, were that (i) the
Company misstated and failed to disclose that it had engaged in
improper and deceptive recruiting and sales strategies, aimed
strictly at enrolling students regardless of the students' ability
to successfully complete the curriculum; (ii) the Company
misstated and failed to disclose the administrative pressure from
upper management levels to pass students despite poor (or
nonexistent) academic performance, so as to maintain high
enrollment levels and in turn continued government payments; and
(iii) the Company's failure to maintain overall math and reading
performance levels of its students equal to statewide grade-level
performance.  As a result, the Complaint alleges that K12 violated
provisions of the Exchange Act during the Class Period by issuing
false and misleading press releases, financial statements, filings
with the Securities and Exchange Commission and statements during
investor conference calls.

Plaintiff now seeks to recover damages on behalf of himself and
all other investors who purchased or acquired K12 common stock
during the Class Period, excluding defendants and their
affiliates.  Plaintiff is represented by Faruqi & Faruqi, LLP, a
national securities law firm with extensive experience in
prosecuting class actions involving corporate fraud.

If you wish to serve as lead plaintiff for the proposed class in
this action, you must file a motion with the Court no later than
60 days from January 31, 2012.  Any member of the proposed class
may move the Court to serve as lead plaintiff, or may choose to do
nothing and remain a member of the proposed class.

If you purchased K12 common stock during the Class Period and wish
to obtain information concerning joining this action, you can do
so under the "Join Lawsuit" section of our Web site or by
clicking: http://www.faruqilaw.com/LRN

If you wish to discuss this action or have any questions
concerning this notice or your rights or interests, you can also

          FARUQI & FARUQI, LLP
          369 Lexington Avenue, 10th Floor
          New York, NY 10017
          Attn: Richard Gonnello, Esq.
          Francis McConville, Esq.
          E-mail: rgonnello@faruqilaw.com
          Telephone: (877) 247-4292
                     (212) 983-9330

LOUISIANA CITIZENS: Seeks Emergency Stay of Asset Seizure Order
WDSU reports that after a judge dissolved a temporary restraining
order prohibiting seizure of its assets, Louisiana Citizens
Property Insurance Corporation filed an emergency application for
a stay with the U.S. Supreme Court.

The move would prohibit further proceedings in the Oubre case and
stop the seizure, if granted.

In 2009, a district court judge awarded more than 18,000
homeowners in the class-action case $5,000 each because the
insurer's records proved that Citizens violated state law by
waiting more than 30 days to begin adjusting hurricane claims,
which put homeowners behind in the rebuilding process.

The application cites arguments, including pleas for a
constitutional due process.

"This case raises an important recurring question about the
constraints that process imposes on class-action procedures in
state court," the application said.  "The Louisiana Supreme Court
held that each class member was entitled to recover the maximum
penalty of $5,000 -- even though neither the class as whole, nor
any individual class member, had presented any evidence attempting
to justify the $5,000 penalty."

Citizens said that the Louisiana Supreme Court violated due
process by relieving the class members of their "state-law burden
of proving their entitlement" to the maximum civil penalty and
denying the insurer an opportunity to present every available

The insurer of last resort is asking the court to review the case
in hopes of reversing the decision.

The application was filed about 9:00 p.m. on Jan. 30.

"There are thousands of applications to the US Supreme Court every
year.  A very small fraction gets a thorough review and of those
that do, an overwhelming percentage is Constitutional issues in
criminal matters and the remaining cases are Federal civil law
issues.  The Oubre case has none that we can see.  While we do not
believe that there are any federal issues in the case, we expected
this action by Citizens and we will file our opposition as soon as
it is ready.  Our opposition will point out to the Justices that
this is a state law matter and that there is no Constitutional or
Federal issue, even though Citizens wants to make it a 'Federal
Case,'" Attorney Wiley Beevers said on behalf of the plaintiffs.

MICROMET INC: Being Sold to Amgen for Too Little, Del. Suit Says
Courthouse News Service reports that shareholders say Micromet is
selling itself too cheaply to Amgen, for $11 a share or $1.16
billion, in Chancery Court.

A copy of the Complaint in Bohaychuck v. Hale, et al., Case No.
7197 (Del. Ch. Ct.), is available at:


The Plaintiff is represented by:

          Seth D. Rigrodsky, Esq.
          Brian D. Long, Esq.
          Gina M. Serra, Esq.
          RIGRODSKY & LONG, P.A.
          919 North Market Street, Suite 980
          Wilmington, DE 19801
          Telephone: (302) 295-5310
          E-mail: sdr@rigrodskylong.com

               - and -

          Lionel Z. Glancy, Esq.
          Michael Goldberg, Esq.
          Louis Boyarsky, Esq.
          1925 Century Park East, Suite 2100
          Los Angeles, CA 90067
          Telephone: (310) 201-9150

               - and -

          Willie C. Briscoe, Esq.
          The Preston Commons
          8117 Preston Road, Suite 300
          Dallas, TX 75225
          Telephone: (214) 706-9314
          E-mail: wbriscoe@thebriscoelawfirm.com

               - and -

          Patrick Powers, Esq.
          Mark Taylor, Esq.
          Peyton Healey, Esq.
          Campbell Centre II
          8150 North Central Expressway, Suite 1575
          Dallas, TX 75206
          Telephone: (214) 239-8900
          E-mail: patrick@powerstaylor.com

RCMP: Seeks Public Input in Workplace Harassment Probe
The Vancouver Sun reports that the RCMP Public Complaints
Commission is asking for the public's input in its probe of how
the Mounties dealt with harassment complaints within the force.

The RCMP Public Complaints Commission is asking for the public's
input in its probe of how the Mounties dealt with harassment
complaints within the force.  The call for submissions comes when
lawyers in B.C. and Ontario are planning to file a class-action
lawsuit -- possibly this week -- on behalf of dozens of cur-rent
and former female Mounties alleging a "toxic work environment."
The commission's inquiry, launched in November by interim chairman
Ian McPhail, will examine whether the RCMP followed laws and
policies when investigating allegations of workplace harassment
and conducted investigations in a thorough and impartial manner.
It will also look at whether existing RCMP guidelines for dealing
with such allegations are adequate.

While the final report may draw excerpts from submissions, the
identities of submitters will remain anonymous, the commission
said.  The deadline for sub-missions is March 30.  More details
can be found at http://www.cpc-cpp.gc.ca

SPECIALIZED BICYCLE: Recalls 460 Bicycles Due to Fall Hazard
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, in cooperation with
distributor, Specialized Bicycle Components Inc., of Morgan Hill,
California, and manufacturer, Advanced Group of Taiwan, announced
a voluntary recall of about 460 units of 2012 Bicycles with
Advanced Group carbon forks.  About 14,200 were recalled in
September 2011
Consumers should stop using recalled products immediately unless
otherwise instructed.  It is illegal to resell or attempt to
resell a recalled consumer product.

The brake component housed within the bicycle's carbon fork can
disengage from the fork and allow the brake assembly to contact
the wheel spokes while rotating, posing a fall hazard.

No incidents or injuries have been reported.

This recall involves the 2012 Tricross Sport and 2012 Tricross
Comp model bicycles.  The bicycles are various colors and have the
brand name "Specialized" on the lower front frame tube.  The model
name "Tricross Sport" or "Tricross Comp" is on the top tube.
Pictures of the recalled products are available at:


The recalled products were manufactured in Taiwan and sold at
authorized Specialized retailers nationwide from June 2011 through
November 2011 for between $1,250 to $2,000.

Consumers should immediately stop riding these bicycles and return
them to an authorized Specialized retailer for a free repair or
replacement carbon fork.  For additional information, contact
Specialized toll-free at (877) 808-8154 from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00
p.m. Pacific Time Monday through Friday, or visit the company's
Web site at http://www.specialized.com/

TIMBERCORP: Agribusiness Class Actions Set to Return to Court
Kate Kachor, writing for InvestorDaily, reports that M+K will
return to court this month on behalf of thousands of agribusiness

Class action cases against select Australians agribusiness firms
that collapsed following the global financial crisis will return
to court this month.

Macpherson + Kelley Lawyers (M+K) principal Ron Willemsen --
ron.willemsen@mk.com.au -- told InvestorDaily class action
proceedings involving Timbercorp and Great Southern will return to
court in the coming weeks.

The Timbercorp class action returns to court on February 9 for a
directions hearing before the appeal court, Mr. Willemsen said.

As the hearing is of a procedural nature, he said it is not yet
known when an actual appeal will happen, however M+K remain

"We think that among the 14 grounds of appeal that are in our
notice of appeal, we believe that there is certainly room for an
appeal court to find in favor of investors," he said.

In November last year, a court judge dismissed M+K's Timbercorp
class action claims for compensation for investors.

Lawyers behind a Timbercorp class action will fight a court
decision that denies compensation payments to investors of the
failed agribusiness group.

The class action proceedings involving Great Southern will return
to court for a logistical hearing this week, with the case
remaining on track for a trial commencing in August.

"There are 16 related class actions covering a variety of
different schemes sold during the period of 2005 to 2008," he

Mr. Willemsen said the large number of Great Southern class
actions was due to the varying schemes and due to the three-year
time period.

"We thought it logistically better to have them separate rather
than bundled all into one case because that might have made it too
logistically cumbersome to keep a handle on during the trial," he

"Much of what's at issue in each of the cases is dependent on the
individual projects' product disclosure statements that were
issued that people signed up on.  They are all progressing in
tandem in one way, shape or form."

As well as Timbercorp and Great Southern, M+K has actions against
parties involved in Willmott Forests.  The firm also has smaller,
individual actions against Rewards Group and Forrest Enterprise

In total, M+K is undertaking agribusiness class actions and legal
work on behalf of 6000 investors, he said.

                        Asbestos Litigation

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Crane Co. Had 58,658 Pending Claims at Dec. 31
Crane Co., in its January 23, 2012, Form 8-K filing with the U.S.
Securities and Exchange Commission, disclosed that as of
December 31, 2011, the Company was a defendant in cases filed in
numerous state and federal courts alleging injury or death as a
result of exposure to asbestos and 58,658 claims were pending as
of December 31, 2011.

Approximately 20,800 claims were pending in New York,
approximately 10,000 claims were pending in Texas, approximately
5,500 claims were pending in Mississippi, and approximately 5,300
claims were pending in Ohio, all jurisdictions in which
legislation or judicial orders restrict the types of claims that
can proceed to trial on the merits.

Substantially all of the claims the Company resolves are either
dismissed or concluded through settlements. To date, the Company
has paid two judgments arising from adverse jury verdicts in
asbestos matters. The first payment, in the amount of $2.54
million, was made on July 14, 2008, approximately two years after
the adverse verdict in the Joseph Norris matter in California,
after the Company had exhausted all post-trial and appellate
remedies. The second payment, in the amount of $0.02 million, was
made in June 2009 after an adverse verdict in the Earl Haupt case
in Los Angeles, California on April 21, 2009.

During the fourth quarter of 2007 and the first quarter of 2008,
the Company tried several cases resulting in defense verdicts by
the jury or directed verdicts for the defense by the court, one of
which, the Patrick O'Neil claim in Los Angeles, was reversed on
appeal. In an opinion dated January 12, 2012, the California
Supreme Court reversed the decision of the Court of Appeal and
instructed the trial court to enter a judgment of nonsuit in favor
of the defendants.

On March 14, 2008, the Company received an adverse verdict in the
James Baccus claim in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with
compensatory damages of $2.45 million and additional damages of
$11.9 million. The Company's post-trial motions were denied by
order dated January 5, 2009. The case was concluded by settlement
in the fourth quarter of 2010 during the pendency of the Company's
appeal to the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. The settlement is
reflected in the settled claims for 2010.

On May 16, 2008, the Company received an adverse verdict in the
Chief Brewer claim in Los Angeles, California. The amount of the
judgment entered was $0.68 million plus interest and costs. The
Company is pursuing an appeal in this matter.

On February 2, 2009, the Company received an adverse verdict in
the Dennis Woodard claim in Los Angeles, California. The jury
found that the Company was responsible for one-half of one percent
(0.5%) of plaintiffs' damages of $16.93 million; however, based on
California court rules regarding allocation of damages, judgment
was entered against the Company in the amount of $1.65 million,
plus costs. Following entry of judgment, the Company filed a
motion with the trial court requesting judgment in the Company's
favor notwithstanding the jury's verdict, and on
June 30, 2009, the court advised that the Company's motion was
granted and judgment was entered in favor of the Company. The
trial court's ruling was affirmed on appeal by order dated
August 25, 2011. The plaintiffs have appealed that ruling to the
Supreme Court of California, which has accepted review of the

On March 23, 2010, a Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, state
court jury found the Company responsible for a 1/11th share of a
$14.5 million verdict in the James Nelson claim, and for a 1/20th
share of a $3.5 million verdict in the Larry Bell claim. On
February 23, 2011, the court entered judgment on the verdicts in
the amount of $0.2 million against the Company, only, in Bell, and
in the amount of $4.0 million, jointly, against the Company and
two other defendants in Nelson, with additional interest in the
amount of $0.01 million being assessed against the Company, only,
in Nelson. All defendants, including the Company, and the
plaintiffs have taken timely appeals of certain aspects of those
judgments. Those appeals are pending.

On August 17, 2011, a New York City state court jury found the
Company responsible for a 99% share of a $32 million verdict on
the Ronald Dummitt claim. The Company has filed post-trial motions
seeking to overturn the verdict, to grant a new trial, or to
reduce the damages, which the Company argues are excessive under
New York appellate case law governing awards for non-economic
losses. The Court held oral argument on these motions on October
18, 2011, and a written decision is expected to be issued. The
Company anticipates that it will likely appeal any judgment that
may be entered on the verdict.

Such judgment amounts are not included in the Company's incurred
costs until all available appeals are exhausted and the final
payment amount is determined.

The gross settlement and defense costs incurred (before insurance
recoveries and tax effects) for the Company for the years ended
December 31, 2011, 2010 and 2009 totaled $105.5 million, $106.6
million and $110.1 million, respectively.

In contrast to the recognition of settlement and defense costs,
which reflect the current level of activity in the tort system,
cash payments and receipts generally lag the tort system activity
by several months or more, and may show some fluctuation from
quarter to quarter. Cash payments of settlement amounts are not
made until all releases and other required documentation are
received by the Company, and reimbursements of both settlement
amounts and defense costs by insurers may be uneven due to insurer
payment practices, transitions from one insurance layer to the
next excess layer and the payment terms of certain reimbursement
agreements. The Company's total pre-tax payments for settlement
and defense costs, net of funds received from insurers, for the
years ended December 31, 2011, 2010 and 2009 totaled a $79.3
million net payment, $66.7 million net payment and a $55.8 million
net payment (reflecting the receipt of $14.5 million in 2009 for
full policy buyout from Highlands Insurance Company),

The Company has retained the firm of Hamilton, Rabinovitz &
Associates, Inc., a nationally recognized expert in the field, to
assist management in estimating the Company's asbestos liability
in the tort system.  With the assistance of HR&A, effective as of
December 31, 2011, the Company updated and extended its estimate
of the asbestos liability, including the costs of settlement or
indemnity payments and defense costs relating to currently pending
claims and future claims projected to be filed against the Company
through 2021. The Company's previous estimate was for asbestos
claims filed or projected to be filed through 2017. As a result of
this updated estimate, the Company recorded an additional
liability of $285 million as of December 31, 2011.  Management has
made its best estimate of the costs through 2021 based on the
analysis by HR&A completed in January 2012. A liability of $894
million was recorded as of December 31, 2011, to cover the
estimated cost of asbestos claims now pending or subsequently
asserted through 2021, of which approximately 80% is attributable
to settlement and defense costs for future claims projected to be
filed through 2021.  The current portion of the total estimated
liability at December 31, 2011, was $101 million and represents
the Company's best estimate of total asbestos costs expected to be
paid during the twelve-month period.

Stamford, Connecticut-based Crane Co. is a diversified
manufacturer of highly engineered industrial products.  Founded in
1855, the Company provides products and solutions to customers in
the aerospace, electronics, hydrocarbon processing, petrochemical,
chemical, power generation, automated merchandising,
transportation and other markets.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: No 3rd-Party Claims Filed Against Sanmina-SCI
Sanmina-SCI Corporation disclosed in its January 26, 2012, Form
10-Q filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for
the quarterly period ended December 31, 2011, that asbestos
containing materials, or ACM, are present at several of its
manufacturing facilities. Although the ACM is being managed and
controls have been put in place pursuant to ACM operations and
maintenance plans, the presence of ACM could give rise to
remediation obligations and other liabilities. No governmental or
third-party claims relating to ACM have been brought at this time,
the Company relates.

With headquarters in San Jose, California and revenue of $6.6
billion for the fiscal year ended October 1, 2011, Sanmina-SCI
Corporation is an electronics manufacturing services (EMS)
provider supplying integrated, value-added solutions to original
equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Chubb Corp. Has $605MM Net Reserves at Dec. 31
The Chubb Corporation delivered on January 26, 2012, a 2011 update
on asbestos reserves with the U.S. Securities and Exchange
Commission, disclosing asbestos net reserves of $605 million at
December 31, 2011.

"This reserve represents Chubb's best estimate of our ultimate
asbestos liability at December 31, 2011.  This reserve amount is
at full (undiscounted) value, and no consideration has been given
for legislative or judicial relief.  The net reserve reflects a
modest reinsurance recoverable amount of approximately 4% of the
gross reserve," the Company disclosed.

Net payments for asbestos liabilities in 2011 were $48 million.

According to Chubb, the purpose of the updated review is to:

   * reassess Chubb's ultimate liability regarding asbestos
     exposures using an internal analysis, reviewed by the
     Company's independent outside consulting actuaries;

   * determine appropriate reserve levels;

   * ensure aggressive case management of asbestos claims:

     -- manage the Company's exposure;
     -- identify trends or issues that may impact exposure; and

   * provide relevant substantive information requested by
     investors and rating agencies.

Headquartered in Warren, New Jersey, The Chubb Corporation
provides property and casualty insurance for personal and
commercial customers worldwide through 8,500 independent agents
and brokers. The Company's global network includes branches and
affiliates throughout North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia
and Australia.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: H.B. Fuller Has $399,000 Probable Liabilities
H.B. Fuller Company's probable liabilities related to asbestos
claims were $399,000 as of December 3, 2011, according to the
Company's January 27, 2012, Form 10-K filing with the U.S.
Securities and Exchange Commission for the fiscal year ended
December 3, 2011.

The Company has been named as a defendant in lawsuits in which
plaintiffs have alleged injury due to products containing asbestos
manufactured more than 25 years ago. The plaintiffs generally
bring these lawsuits against multiple defendants and seek damages
(both actual and punitive) in very large amounts. In many cases,
plaintiffs are unable to demonstrate that they have suffered any
compensable injuries or that the injuries suffered were the result
of exposure to products manufactured by the Company.  The Company
is typically dismissed as a defendant in these cases without
payment. If the plaintiff presents evidence indicating that
compensable injury occurred as a result of exposure to the
Company's products, the case is generally settled for an amount
that reflects the seriousness of the injury, the length, intensity
and character of exposure to products containing asbestos, the
number and solvency of other defendants in the case, and the
jurisdiction in which the case has been brought.

In 2007, the Company and a group of other defendants entered into
negotiations with certain law firms to settle a number of
asbestos-related lawsuits and claims over a period of years. In
total, the Company had expected to contribute up to $4,114,000,
based on a present value calculation, towards the settlement
amounts to be paid to the claimants in exchange for full releases
of claims. Of this amount, the Company's insurers had committed to
pay $2,043,000 based on the probable liability of $4,114,000. The
Company's contributions toward settlements from the time of the
agreement through the end of fiscal year 2010 were $1,674,000 with
insurers paying $892,000 of that amount. Based on this experience
the Company reduced its reserves to an undiscounted amount of
$800,000 with insurers expected to pay $510,000. During 2011 the
Company contributed another $550,000 toward settlements with
insurers paying $351,000 of that amount. This reduced the
Company's reserves for this agreement to $250,000 with an
insurance receivable of $159,000, as of December 3, 2011. These
amounts represent the Company's best estimate for the settlement
amounts yet to be paid related to this agreement. The Company's
reserve is recorded on an undiscounted basis.

To the extent the Company can reasonably estimate the amount of
its probable liabilities for pending asbestos-related claims, the
Company established a financial provision and a corresponding
receivable for insurance recoveries. As of December 3, 2011, the
Company's probable liabilities and insurance recoveries related to
asbestos claims were $399,000 and $295,000, respectively. The
Company has concluded that it is not possible to reasonably
estimate the cost of disposing of other asbestos-related claims
(including claims that might be filed in the future) due to its
inability to project future events.

For cases in which insurance coverage is available, the gross
amount of the estimated liabilities is accrued, and a receivable
is recorded for any probable estimated insurance recoveries. As of
December 3, 2011, the Company has accrued $0.4 million for
potential liabilities and $0.3 million for potential insurance
recoveries related to asbestos litigation. The Company also has
recorded $2.1 million for environmental investigation and
remediation liabilities, including $1.1 million for environmental
remediation and monitoring activities at its Sorocaba, Brazil
facility as of December 3, 2011.

The Company has recognized a liability related to special handling
of asbestos related materials in certain facilities for which its
has plans or expectation of plans to undertake a major renovation
or demolition project that would require the removal of asbestos
or have plans or expectation of plans to exit a facility. In
addition, the Company has determined that all facilities have some
level of asbestos that will require abatement action in the
future.  The asset retirement obligation liability was $1,400,000
and $1,369,000 at December 3, 2011, and November 27, 2010,

St. Paul, Minnesota-based H.B. Fuller Company makes adhesives,
sealants, powder coatings for metals (office furniture,
appliances), and liquid paints (in Latin America).

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Columbus McKinnon to Pay $1MM in Next 12 Months
Columbus McKinnon Corporation expects to incur asbestos liability
payments of approximately $1,000,000 over the next 12 months,
according to the Company's January 27, 2012, Form 10-Q filing with
the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for the quarterly
period ended December 31, 2011.

Like many industrial manufacturers, the Company is involved in
asbestos-related litigation.  In continually evaluating costs
relating to its estimated asbestos-related liability, the Company
reviews, among other things, the incidence of past and recent
claims, the historical case dismissal rate, the mix of the claimed
illnesses and occupations of the plaintiffs, its recent and
historical resolution of the cases, the number of cases pending
against it, the status and results of broad-based settlement
discussions, and the number of years such activity might continue.
Based on this review, the Company has estimated its share of
liability to defend and resolve probable asbestos-related personal
injury claims. This estimate is highly uncertain due to the
limitations of the available data and the difficulty of
forecasting with any certainty the numerous variables that can
affect the range of the liability. The Company will continue to
study the variables in light of additional information in order to
identify trends that may become evident and to assess their impact
on the range of liability that is probable and estimable.

Based on actuarial information, the Company has estimated its
asbestos-related aggregate liability including related legal costs
to range between $7,000,000 and $18,000,000 using actuarial
parameters of continued claims for a period of 18 to 30 years from
the end of the current fiscal year. The Company's estimation of
its asbestos-related aggregate liability that is probable and
estimable, in accordance with U.S. generally accepted accounting
principles approximates $12,000,000, which has been reflected as a
liability in the condensed consolidated financial statements as of
December 31, 2011. The recorded liability does not consider the
impact of any potential favorable federal legislation. This
liability will fluctuate based on the uncertainty in the number of
future claims that will be filed and the cost to resolve those
claims, which may be influenced by a number of factors, including
the outcome of the ongoing broad-based settlement negotiations,
defensive strategies, and the cost to resolve claims outside the
broad-based settlement program. Of this amount, management expects
to incur asbestos liability payments of approximately $1,000,000
over the next 12 months. Because payment of the liability is
likely to extend over many years, management believes that the
potential additional costs for claims will not have a material
after-tax effect on the financial condition of the Company or its
liquidity, although the net after-tax effect of any future
liabilities recorded could be material to earnings in a future

Headquartered in Amherst, New York, Columbus McKinnon Corporation
designs, markets and manufactures material handling products and
services, which efficiently and safely move, lift, position and
secure material.  Key products include hoists, rigging tools,
cranes, and actuators.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Del. Ct. Dismisses Suit vs. Georgia-Pacific
Francis Ruggeri alleges that he was exposed to asbestos when he
used joint compound manufactured by Georgia-Pacific LLC, at its
Milford, Virginia plant.  That exposure allegedly occurred when
renovated his homes.  Georgia-Pacific argues that there is no
evidence that Mr. Ruggeri its product during the renovations and
that it ceased manufacturing asbestos-containing spackling
compound in May 1977.

In a Jan. 10, 2012 memorandum and opinion, Judge John A. Parkins,
Jr., of the Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle County, agreed
with Georgia-Pacific that there is no evidence in the record that
Mr. Ruggeri was exposed to asbestos from the company's products
during the renovations of his homes.  Mr. Ruggeri testified he
used Georgia-Pacific sheet rock and wood paneling during those
renovations, but it is undisputed that Georgia-Pacific never
manufactured sheet rock or wood paneling containing asbestos.

Because Mr. Ruggeri has adduced no evidence that he was exposed to
the asbestos-containing version of Ready Mix as opposed to the
asbestos-free variety, Judge Parkins granted Georgia-Pacific's
motion for summary judgment.

The case is In re Asbestos Litigation: 022012 DB Trial Group
Francis Ruggeri, C.A. No. N10C-08-085 ASB (Del.).  A copy of Judge
Parkins' Decision is available at http://is.gd/sLQiMJfrom

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Suit vs. PREPA Junked for Lack of Jurisdiction
Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority filed an omnibus motion to
dismiss several plaintiffs' amended asbestos complaint arguing
that it is entitled to dismissal under Superior Court Rule of
Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) because the plaintiffs have not
established personal jurisdiction.

In a Jan. 10, 2012 memorandum and order, Judge John A. Parkins,
Jr., of the Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle County, granted
the Motion for Dismissal after determining that the plaintiffs
have not established sufficient evidence that the court can
exercise personal jurisdiction over the defendant.

Owning a subsidiary incorporated in Delaware and receiving
business services from a Delaware corporation do not create
minimum contacts for the court to exercise jurisdiction over
Defendant and would offend traditional notions of fair play and
substantial justice, Judge Parkins held.

The case In re Asbestos Litigation, Limited to: Mass, Denis
Martinez and Martinez, Bethzaida, CA No. N10C-10-159 ASB (Del.).
A copy of Judge Parkins' Decision is available at
http://is.gd/p3oca8from Leagle.com.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Ct. Dismisses Suit vs. Dissolved Alabama Company
Arthur Herilhy and his wife Gail Herlihy filed a complaint against
SVI Corporation to recover for personal injuries allegedly caused
by Mr. Herlihy's exposure to asbestos-containing products while
working for the Brooklyn Boiler Repair Company of Brooklyn, New
York, from 1962 to 1991.  SVI moves to dismiss the complaint on
the ground that under Alabama law the complaint was untimely filed
after the expiration of the two-year survival period that followed
SVI's corporate dissolution in 2007 as an Alabama Corporation.

In a Jan. 13, 2012 decision and order, Justice Sherry Klein
Heitler of the Supreme Court of New York County granted SVI's
motion to dismiss, agreeing with SVI's contention that a dissolved
Alabama corporation is not competent to be sued two years after
publication of its dissolution notice.

The Herlihys argued that the Alabama statute does not apply in
this case because it violates New York laws public policy.  Judge
Heitler, however, noted that the only evidence of SVI's alleged
"presence" in New York is a printout from an online encyclopedia
in which the author describes SVI as having warehouses in New York
during World War II.  Those remote contacts are insufficient to
implicate the public policy exception, Judge Heitler ruled.

The case is Herlihy v. A.F. Supply Corp., 2012 NY Slip Op
30070(U)(N.Y.).  A copy of Justice Heitler's Decision is available
at http://is.gd/g5Y5PDfrom Leagle.com.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Del. Ct. Dismisses Suit vs. Sherwin-Williams
Kay Heddinger, on behalf of her deceased husband, Harold
Heddinger, and as his surviving spouse, filed a wrongful death
suit against The Sherwin-Williams Company.  Ms. Heddinger alleges
that her husband's exposure to Sherwin-Williams' paint and paint-
related products in his occupational and non-occupational
capacities caused his Acute Myelogenous Lukemia, a type of cancer,
which ultimately led to his death.  Sherwin-Williams moved for
summary judgment based on Ms. Heddinger's witnesses' failure to
specifically identify Mr. Heddinger's use of Sherwin-Williams
paint products.

In a Jan. 13, 2012 memorandum and opinion, Judge Jan R. Jurden of
the Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle County, granted
Sherwin-William's motion for summary judgment with respect to
alleged occupational exposure prior to 1988.

The Court noted that during Mr. Heddinger's time of employment, he
cannot identify the paint manufacturer of the paint they used in
the company.  Ms. Heddinger also cannot prove that Sherwin-
Williams' paint products were used by Mr. Heddinger before 1988.

With respect to alleged non-occupational exposure prior to June
25, 1990, the Court granted Sherwin-Williams' motion for summary
judgment.  Sherwin-Williams produced documentation proving that it
did not own Krylon before June 25, 1990, and Mr. Heddinger has
provided no evidence to the contrary.  Thus, she has failed to
meet its burden and show that a Sherwin-Williams product caused
her husband's non-occupational injuries before June 25, 1990.

The case is Heddinger v. Ashland Oil, Inc., C.A. No. 06C-05-295
BEN (Del.).  A copy of Judge Jurden's Decision is available at
http://is.gd/6GxnUefrom Leagle.com.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: N.Y. Ct. Dismisses Suit vs. Gardner Denver
Dominick Palaio, now deceased, and his wife Anna, commenced an
action against Gardner Denver, Inc., to recover for personal
injuries allegedly caused by Mr. Palaio's occupational exposure to
asbestos-containing products at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, among
other locations.  Gardner Denver moves for summary judgment
dismissing the complaint and all cross-claims against it.

In a Jan. 13, 2012 decision and order, Justice Sherry Klein
Heitler of the Supreme Court of New York County granted Gardner
Denver's motion for the plaintiffs' failure to identify any
Gardner Denver products as a source of Mr. Palaio's exposure.

The case is Palaio v. A.O. Smith Water Products, 2012 NY Slip Op
30122 (U)(N.Y.).  A copy of Justice Heitler's Decision is
available at http://is.gd/vjl49Wfrom Leagle.com.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: N.Y. Ct. Denies Summary Dismissal of Tishman Suit
John Doherty and his wife Kathleen commenced an action against
Tishman Realty & Construction Co., Inc., to recover for personal
injuries allegedly caused by Mr. Doherty's exposure to asbestos
during his career as a carpenter and acoustical worker from
approximately 1962 to 1996.  Tishman moves for summary judgment
dismissing the complaint and all cross claims against it.

In a Jan. 13, 2012 decision and order, Justice Sherry Klein
Heitler of the Supreme Court of New York County denied the motion
after determining that there is overwhelming evidence suggesting
that Tishman knew or should have known that asbestos-containing
fireproofing spray could pose health hazards to the other workers
if not used properly.  In light of the evidence, there are several
material issues of fact outstanding that plaintiffs' suit should
proceed to a jury, Justice Heitler ruled.

The case is Doherty v. A.C. & S., Inc., 2012 NY Slip Op
30121(U)(N.Y.).  A copy of Justice Heitler's Decision is available
at http://is.gd/cH0KXmfrom Leagle.com.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Death Benefits Claim Denied for Being Untimely
Shiela Coffey, administrator for the estate of Dennis H. Barber,
Sr., et al., appeals from an opinion and award by the North
Carolina Industrial Commission denying their death benefits claim
as untimely.  Mr. Barber was employed by Weyerhaeuser Company at
its Plymouth, North Carolina, facility from 1953 to 1974.  Mr.
Barber was diagnosed with asbestosis, and asbestos-related
laryngeal cancer.  He filed a workers' compensation claim.  In
1999, Mr. Barber and Weyerhaeuser reached an Agreement of
Settlement where the company agreed to pay Mr. Barber $101,699 in
full and final settlement of his accrued workers' compensation
benefits, as well as lifetime weekly benefits in the amount of
$537 per week for his "total and permanent disability."  In
January 2009, Mr. Barber died as a result of the asbestosis.

In a Jan. 17, 2012 memorandum and decision, Judge J. Douglas
McCullough of the Court of Appeals of North Carolina affirmed the
Commission's order holding that the 1999 Agreement left nothing
further to be decided by the Commission regarding Mr. Barber's
disability, and the record shows that following the Commission's
approval of the 1999 Agreement until Mr. Barber's death more than
nine years later, no other issues regarding his disability was
brought before the Commission.  The Court then ruled that the
Commission properly concluded that the approval of the 1999
Agreement resolved issues of permanent and total disability
constituted a final determination of disability.

The Court also ruled that the Commission was correct when it
concluded that for purposes of the two year statute of limitations
following a final determination of disability, there is a final
determination of disability when the Industrial Commission
determines that an employee is permanently and totally disabled.

The case is Coffey v. Weyerhaeuser Company, No. COA11-791 (N.C.).
A copy of Judge McCullough's Decision is available at
http://is.gd/lGU8Ztfrom Leagle.com.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: DNR to Decide Abatement Method at Joplin School
Kelsey Ryan of The Joplin Globe reports that another asbestos-
removal hurdle has slowed the Joplin School District's demolition
of tornado-destroyed buildings.

This time it involves the old South Middle School building in the
300 block of West 22nd Street.

Mike Johnson, the school district's director of buildings, grounds
and transportation, said the Missouri Department of Natural
Resources (DNR) has changed the method of asbestos removal it is
requiring for this project.  Instead of the wet method, asbestos-
contaminated materials must be removed before the walls come down.
The wet method was used at Irving Elementary, he said, because the
building was no longer stable.  The asbestos removal there held up
the demolition work for a few days.

Johnson said he does not have an estimate as to when the walls at
the old South building will begin coming down because all asbestos
must be removed before that work can start.

He said it's understandable that the method order was changed
because that particular building is not in immediate danger of

"The actual situation for each of those schools is going to be
different," said Renee Bungart, director of communications for the
Department of Natural Resources.  "They're still sampling,
monitoring and removing items that contain asbestos, and wrapping
those items and properly disposing of them."

The precautions for both methods are similar, Bungart said.

In the wet method, workers douse debris with water as the site is
demolished to, in theory, reduce the amount of asbestos-
contaminated dust in the air.  The preferred method is to remove
all asbestos before demolition begins, but that can't always be
done if a building is in danger of collapsing.

The wet method of asbestos removal recently was called into
question by the Environmental Protection Agency's inspector
general because of its potential effect on human health, but
authorities with the Missouri DNR and others stood behind its use
at Irving because the building was so structurally unsound.

David Bryan, public affairs specialist with the EPA's regional
office in Kansas City, said in a previous interview with the Globe
that the wet method "largely mitigates the release of fibers into
the air."  But, he said, prolonged exposure to the fibers in the
air "can increase the amount of fibers deposited in the lung.
Fibers embedded in the lung tissue over time may result in lung
diseases such as asbestosis, lung cancer or mesothelioma."

The school district is assuming that all of the demolition sites
-- Joplin High School, Franklin Technology Center, East Middle
School, old South, Irving and Emerson -- have asbestos.

"We either assume it is (contaminated with asbestos) or have to
prove it isn't," Johnson said.

Occu-Tec, an environmental management company out of Kansas City
that oversees workplace safety and compliance, is the
subcontractor overseeing air monitoring at the old South.  The
general contractor is Urban Metro Development of Atlanta, Ga.

Joplin school officials said Urban Metro went through Missouri
licensing procedures in December and is now handling the removal
of asbestos itself.

Bungart said the DNR is waiting for a determination on which
method to use for asbestos removal at Joplin High School.  Johnson
said he doesn't think the structure is stable enough for crews to
use the traditional approach that is being used at South.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: ADAO Pushes to Bar Chrysotile Trade on US Soil
The following statement was issued on Jan. 25, 2012, by Linda
Reinstein, Co-Founder, President & CEO of the Asbestos Disease
Awareness Organization (ADAO), regarding the 2012 United States
Geological Survey report about the dramatic increase in asbestos
importation to the United States:

"As a Mesothelioma widow and asbestos awareness advocate, I was
appalled and shocked to discover today that the 2012 United States
Geological Survey (USGS) Mineral Commodity Summaries reported
asbestos consumption from January through July of 2011 to be 1,100
metric tons; however, when comparing a previous report from
January through July of 2010, asbestos consumption was reported to
be 820 metric tons.  This difference of 280 metric tons represents
a 25% increase in consumption.  For more than three decades,
asbestos has been a known human carcinogen, yet occupational and
environmental exposure continues throughout the United States.

The World Health Organization, International Labour Organization,
United States Environmental Protection Agency, and United States
Surgeon General all agree -- there is no safe level of asbestos
exposure.  The EPA estimates that "3,000 different types of
commercial products contain some amount of asbestos, and their use
ranges from paper products and brake linings to floor tiles and
thermal insulation."

The asbestos industry has argued for years that importation and
exposure was decreasing; however, we have discovered today that
their argument simply isn't true.  As the USGS asbestos report
cited, "Roofing products were estimated to account for about 60%
of U.S. consumption; the chloralkali industry about 35%; and
unknown applications, 5%.  All the asbestos used in the United
States was chrysotile."  More than 10,000 Americans die every year
from asbestos-caused diseases such as Mesothelioma, Asbestosis,
and Lung Cancer.

On behalf of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), I
am calling on Congress and the President to immediately prohibit
the importation of raw asbestos and asbestos-containing products
from crossing our borders to protect public health.  I have lost
my husband Alan to Mesothelioma, a disease caused from asbestos
exposure.  Nothing can bring him or the hundreds of thousands of
other victims back to life, but we can begin by aggressively
preventing exposure thus eliminating deadly diseases."

      About Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization

Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO) was founded by
asbestos victims and their families in 2004.  ADAO seeks to give
asbestos victims and concerned citizens a united voice to raise
public awareness about the dangers of asbestos exposure.  ADAO is
an independent global organization dedicated to preventing
asbestos-related diseases through education, advocacy, and
community. For more information, visit

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Actinolite Discovery Closes Baytex Energy Centre
Jeff Blay at the Daily Herald-Tribune reports that The Baytex
Energy Centre in Peace River has been closed indefinitely due to
traces of actinolite (asbestos) being discovered in the building
upon inspection.

In a press release sent out on Jan. 25, Town of Peace River
officials revealed that as a result of regular arena inspections,
employee concerns arose.

"The Town of Peace River quickly commissioned a health certified
and qualified firm to do immediate testing of leaked insulation
which is common in many cinder block buildings from that
construction era," the release stated.  "Samples were obtained by
the company and upon obtaining four sample test results, one of
the four sample was shown to contain a trace of less than 1% of

According to the Town, the arena was immediately closed to ensure
public safety, allow more required testing, and effect any
remediation required.

In addition to the closure, on Jan. 24, the North Peace Navigators
Junior B hockey team along with members of the Peace River Minor
Hockey Association (PRMHA) were asked to remove all their
belongings from the premises until further notice.

"It was funny because in the morning we got an e-mail from the
town regarding a playoff ice allocation meeting that would be
coming up, then about six hours later we were being told to get
our stuff out," said Navs Head Coach and general manager, Darcy
Haugan.  "We moved our stuff to the Multiplex, and Grimshaw has
been great to work with, so we're just trying to make the best of
a bad situation."

The Navigators are working with the Town of Grimshaw regarding ice
times for their final two home games of the season, which are
scheduled for the first weekend of February.

According to PRMHA, president Barry Himer, his board have
rescheduled the majority of practices and games to arenas in
surrounding communities.

"I'm very proud of my executive team; we were able to meet last
night and come up with a plan to continue being able to operate
our hockey," Himer said.  "Other than a few disruptions of
practices, we should be able to play all of our scheduled games."

"I really want to give a big thank you to the surrounding
communities," Himer stated.  "I've been getting calls from Slave
Lake, Valleyview, High Prairie, Falher, Donnelly, Wembley, Spirit
River and Grande Prairie, so the support has just been phenomenal.

"All of our parents and players have been very patient and
understanding, and we really appreciate that," he added.

Further air sampling will take place Thursday morning, followed by
required professional removal and full clean up, then final
testing, the Town says.

Closure will continue and be reviewed on testing receipt.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Mesothelioma Risk Not High, Namibian Doctor Says
Edson Haufiku of the Informante (Namibia) reports Dr. Annel
Zietsman, a cancer specialist at the Windhoek state hospital's Dr.
Bernard May Cancer Care Center, said: "The threat of asbestos-
induced cancer is not a high health risk in Namibia, as imagined
before (sic)."

According to Zietsman, Namibian hospitals have not recorded any
asbestos related cancer cases until last year when three patients
were diagnosed with Mesothelioma.  Mesothelioma is a non-curable
cancer of the lung lining caused by exposure to asbestos, which
can take up to 40 years to develop.  Breathlessness is one of the
major symptoms of Mesothelioma and a patient diagnosed with the
disease can succumb to the illness in less than six to 18 months.

Mesothelioma is caused by unprotected exposure to asbestos.
People who develop mesothelioma have mostly worked in asbestos
mining areas where they could have come into direct contact with
asbestos particles, either through inhaling asbestos fiber or

"Asbestos related diseases (ARDs) are very rare in Namibia, all
three patients that were diagnosed last year have a long history
of working in or near asbestos mines in South Africa's Northern
Cape," says Zietsman.

According to a Sapa-AFP article published on the Mines and
Communities website in September 2007, "Asbestos mining stopped in
South Africa in the mid-1980s, but former workers and people
living in the vicinity are still being diagnosed with ARDs like
mesothelioma and asbestosis on a regular basis, while many more
continue to be at risk from unrehabilitated mining sites."

A mining and asbestos expert and head of the Chamber of Mines of
Namibia, Dr. Wotan Swiegers, could not be reached for comment as
he is currently out of the country.

As a result of the discovery of underground water supply pipes
made from asbestos in the capital, an earlier Informante expose
revealed that almost all residents in the capital and a quarter of
the Namibian population could be at risk of contracting various
forms of cancer through the pipes that deliver drinking water to
their households.  Asbestos is a deadly material known for causing
cancer even through exposure to a single microscopic fiber.

Asbestos is a set of six naturally silicate minerals used
commercially for their desirable physical properties.  The
inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause serious illnesses,
including malignant lung cancer, mesothelioma, a formerly rare
cancer strongly associated with exposure to amphibole asbestos,
and asbestosis, a type of pneumoconiosis.

The European Union has enforced bans on the use of most forms of
asbestos since 2008.  Only six African countries - Algeria, Egypt,
Gabon, Mozambique, Seychelles and South Africa - have banned the
usage of asbestos in such forms.  No such law has been passed or
discussed in Namibia.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: High Court Urges India to Consider Asbestos Ban
The New Indian Express at IBNlive.com (Kochi) reports that the
Kerala High Court on Jan. 25 held that the government of India
should think of prohibiting the import, manufacture and use of
asbestos to prevent health hazards.  "Asbestos, including the
fiber and its products, is banned in all developed countries as it
is known to be hazardous to health and is one of the causes of
lung cancer.  So India should think of its prohibition," the court
said.  The court also asked the Central Government and the Customs
Commissioner to file a report in this regard.

A Division Bench comprising Justice C. N. Ramachandran Nair and
Justice Babu Mathew P. Joseph passed the order while considering a
petition filed by C. Muthuswami of Bangalore against the detention
of a consignment of asbestos fiber at the Walayar check-post.

"Of course the raw material with which asbestos sheets and pipes
are made are cheap and affordable to common man.  This may be the
reason that prevents developing countries like India from banning
it," the court observed.

The court pointed out that John Varghese, counsel for Customs,
informed that there was no ban on the import of asbestos fiber and
related materials though they are hazardous to health.  The
government should consider the prohibition of asbestos to save
people from health hazards, the Bench observed and directed the
registry to post the case before the Acting Chief Justice's court
which hears Public Interest Litigations (PILs).

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Appeals Court Reverses Rule Against Pneumo Abex
Joe Forward, Legal Writer of The State Bar of Wisconsin, reports
that in a recent decision, a Wisconsin appeals court reversed a
$1.5 million damages award against a brake-shoe supplier whose
product contained asbestos, concluding the evidence was
insufficient to prove causation.

John Pender worked as a painter and glass setter for 41 years,
from 1952 to 1993.  In 2006, he was diagnosed with malignant
mesothelioma and died shortly thereafter.

Pender's estate sued various product manufacturers based on
negligence and strict products liability, claiming the brake shoes
they supplied to Pender's employer,, contained asbestos that
created an asbestos-laden dust during the grinding process.

Pneumo Abex LLC, a brake shoe supplier, was one of the
manufacturers.  Abex did not dispute that its product contained
asbestos.  But in Estate of John Pender v. Pneumonias Abex LLC,
(Jan. 18, 2012), the District I Wisconsin Court of Appeals agreed
with Abex that the estate did not produce sufficient evidence to
prove Pender had actual exposure to Abex's product.

The record indicated that Abex supplied brake shoes to
Harnishfeger Corp. while Pender worked there, but there was
insufficient evidence that Abex's brake shoes were supplied to the
particular plant where Pender worked.

Harnishfeger had several plants in Milwaukee, and nine different
companies supplied brake shoes to the company for a 20-year
period.  The other suppliers that Pender's estate sued were
dismissed at the summary judgment stage.  At trial, Abex stood as
the sole defendant.

A jury found Abex liable on theories of both negligence and strict
liability, awarding damages of nearly $1.5 million.  But the
appeals court ruled the case was over at summary judgment.

"We would have to pile inference upon inference in order to
conclude that Pender was exposed to Abex's brake shoes while
working at the National Avenue plant," wrote Judge Kitty Brennan.

"The evidence fails to take Pender's alleged exposure outside the
realm of speculation and conjecture."  The court noted a lack of
evidence that Abex's brake shoes were ever delivered to
Harnishfeger's National Avenue plant specifically, or were ever
present or grinded there.

"The evidence presented to the trial court created on a 'mere
possibility' of causation, which is not enough to survive summary
judgment," the appeals court concluded.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Demolition of Airport Terminal Delayed
The Barnstable Patriot reports that the old terminal at Barnstable
Municipal Airport will not go gentle into its good night.

Demolition of the building, scheduled for [Jan. 26], was delayed
when asbestos was found around steel beams and down into the
foundation of the gutted terminal, according to Airport Manager
Bud Breault.

Tests of material "came out positive" as asbestos, Breault said
yesterday. He said he'd be meeting this morning "to discuss what
this means" with contractors, subcontractors, and the airport's
"third-party observer," an expert in the field of hazardous

"We won't know [the extent] until tomorrow," he said. "I hope it's
modest and I can cover it with what few dollars are remaining in
the budget. Otherwise, I'll have to go for terminal abatement

That would mean a trip to the town council for approval to tap the
airport enterprise fund. That board, while polite to Breault last
week, expressed its dissatisfaction at a request for $365,000 for
additional asbestos abatement in the old control tower. The
council is expected to vote on that appropriation after a public
hearing Feb. 2.

Councilors have grumbled a bit before approving another
expenditure, $545,000 for emergency power generators, required by
an inappropriate downsizing of the equipment when the project was
scaled back.

The airport may try to tap the new terminal's architect's errors
and omissions insurance on the generator issue, but Breault isn't
laying blame for the new asbestos discovery.

"I don't think anybody realized the full extent of the use of
asbestos in the '50s and '60s," he said. "It's pervasive. You
couldn't see it before you got into the walls."

The material in the old terminal is "not as pervasive as in the
[old] tower," Breault said, adding that remediation could possibly
be accomplished in a week.

Initial estimates for remediation in the old air traffic control
tower came in at $60,000, and airport commissioners weren't
pleased when they heard the $365,00 figure last week.

Breault told commissioners that the non-destructive testing about
three years ago did not go behind walls or into every nook and
cranny of the tower because it had to remain staffed and
operational. Once staff and equipment moved into the new tower in
October, a thorough look at the old tower turned up asbestos at
nearly every turn.

"It's just an unbelievable amount of stuff," Breault said.

The abatement work represents about 40 man-weeks of labor, which
needs to be done prior to the tower being demolished.

If all is funded and goes according to plan, the tower could be
ready to come down in March.

Overall, both the terminal and tower projects came in under
budget, even with the additional expenses. The tower asbestos work
is expected to be reimbursed fully by the Federal Aviation

As a sign that the project is effectively complete except for the
demolitions, remaining road work and landscaping, the airport
commission's construction subcommittee officially disbanded. The
remaining committee work will be handled by the standing
infrastructure committee.

Meanwhile, a temporary generator capable of powering the new
terminal in an outage was installed before the town council's
unanimous vote last week to authorize the purchase of permanent

Breault said that it wasn't until the airport did some emergency
testing of the backup system that staff realized the equipment
wasn't up to the task. He said that the 100Kw generator was able
to power the runway lights, emergency terminal lights and the
parking lot booth. Systems such as HVAC and others were

How the under-sizing happened remains unclear. Breault said that
there is no record of the airport staff or commission authorizing
a change in the generator specification. The assumption is that it
was done by the architects during one of the downsizings of the
terminal. As best as can be determined, it came at a time when the
commission was transitioning away from the former airport manager
in 2008.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Motley Rice Disputes Calif. Sup. Ct. Ruling
John O'Brien at Legal Newsline reports that a recent California
Supreme Court decision in an asbestos case isn't good news for
plaintiffs firms like Motley Rice.

The court ruled earlier this month that holding a valve-maker and
a pump-maker liable for asbestos-related injuries when they never
made a product that contained asbestos would be an unfair
expansion of products liability law. Plaintiffs in the case argued
that Crane Co. and Warren Pumps knew their products would be
insulated with asbestos.

"I think the California Supreme Court got it wrong," said Nathan
Finch, an attorney in Motley Rice's Washington, D.C., office.

Some argue that asbestos attorneys are looking to expand the law
because of a lack of solvent defendants. More than 90 companies
have filed for bankruptcy as a result of asbestos litigation, and
at least 60 bankruptcy trusts have been created to pay claimants
in a system independent of the civil courts system.

Finch, though, says attorneys are merely trying to hold the
companies that allowed the asbestos public health hazard to

He likened the theory used in the California case to a
hypothetical involving gasoline. He said that if gasoline were
declared as dangerous as asbestos, then automakers would be liable
if they were found to have negligently designed their gas tanks.

"It wouldn't matter whose gas it was that caused the injury,"
Finch said. "It's the same situation."

Justice Carol Corrigan disagreed in the majority opinion.

"Recognizing plaintiffs' claims would represent an unprecedented
expansion of strict products liability," Justice Carol Corrigan
wrote. "We decline to do so.

"California law has long provided that manufacturers, distributors
and retailers have a duty to ensure the safety of their products
and will be held strictly liable for injuries caused by a defect
in their products. Yet, we have never held that these
responsibilities extend to preventing injuries caused by other
products that might foreseeably be used in conjunction with a
defendant's product."

Corrigan added that manufacturers have no responsibility to warn
about hazards in replacement parts made by others when the
dangerous feature of the parts was not integral to the product's

Finch said the debate has come up in a variety of courts, with
mixed results for the plaintiffs' side, and that every asbestos
firm has cases like it.

"I think the California Supreme Court got it wrong, but I'm not
the California Supreme Court," he said.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Pittsburgh Lawyer Directed to Submit Docs
Steve Korris at Legal Newsline reports that Pittsburgh asbestos
lawyer Robert Peirce must deliver documents about radiologist Ray
Harron to CSX Transportation for the railroad's racketeering and
fraud suit, a judge has ruled.

On Jan. 19, U.S. Magistrate Judge James Seibert of West Virginia
denied a motion to protect the documents from discovery, finding
Peirce's firm didn't show they fell within the scope of attorney
work product.

"Just because the documents exist in an attorney's file cabinet or
inbox does not mean those documents get blanket protection,"
Seibert wrote.

CSX alleges that Peirce and colleagues Louis Raimond and Mark
Coulter conspired with Harron, of Bridgeport, W.Va., to fabricate
diagnoses for asbestos lawsuits.

Seibert wrote that "while it is clear that the firm and lawyer
defendants used this doctor to make diagnoses of asbestosis or
other illnesses in the underlying actions, this alone does not
determine whether the records and correspondence created pursuant
to that work arrangement are protected as attorney work product."

"The underlying idea behind the work product protection rule is
that the mental processes, legal theories and conclusions are
protected so that an attorney has the ability to adequately
prepare and analyze the case," he wrote. "Here, the documents
merely request that the doctor perform an analysis, and this plain
request cannot be said to be protected work product.

"Without these materials, it might be impossible for plaintiff to
prove that defendants made intentional and fraudulent
misrepresentations about the diagnoses."

He even ordered production of a few documents that he identified
as work product, ruling that an exception for fraud allegations

"Plaintiff has provided enough information that could establish
some violation was ongoing or about to be committed when the work
product was prepared," he wrote. "While the court cannot be
certain, the documents have the possibility of containing
information that would impeach the testimony of the lawyer accused
of misconduct, fraud or lack of knowledge."

CSX sued Peirce, his firm, Raimond, Coulter and Harron in 2005.

U.S. District Judge Frederick Stamp granted summary judgment to
defendants in 2009, finding a statute of limitations had run out.

His action rendered the dispute over the Harron documents moot,

In late 2010, judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth
Circuit in Richmond remanded the case to Stamp with instructions
to let CSX amend the complaint.

CSX amended the complaint last year and the document dispute

Stamp referred it to Seibert, who ruled that a court can permit
discovery relating to any matter that reasonably could lead to
other matter that bears on any issue in the case.

He wrote that courts have allowed broader discovery in these kinds
of cases, partially in response to an opinion of District Judge
Janis Jack of Texas.

In 2005, Jack wrote that doctors, lawyers and X-ray companies
schemed to manufacture diagnoses for money.

Seibert wrote, "Furthermore, the other facts of this case mandate
that this court must allow broad discovery because here
plaintiff's claims involve fraud and conspiracy. Where a
conspiracy is alleged, the scope of discovery may include
documents that predate or postdate the conduct immediately giving
rise to the legal action.

"The documents withheld under claims of attorney client privilege
merely state the name of the client and that the firm is
representing that client."

He wrote that the documents contain other information that
couldn't be considered confidential, such as the fact that CSX
employed certain clients.

He wrote that any party can file objections to the order with
Stamp by Feb. 2.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Former Red Cross Board Member Chadha Steps Down
Rick Cohen of The Nonprofit Quarterly relates that sometimes,
nonprofit boards can be a bit obtuse. In Montreal, former Canadian
Red Cross board member Roshi Chadha recently resigned. Chadha is
an executive of a subsidiary of Balcorp, and the president of
Balcorp is Chadha's husband. Balcorp has been reviving Quebec's
asbestos industry by exporting asbestos, mined from an open pit in
Quebec, to India.

Most readers are aware of the health impacts of asbestos, which
include lung cancer and mesothelioma. Not surprisingly, given the
health and humanitarian image of the Red Cross in Canada and
internationally, health advocates have protested the presence of
an asbestos promoter on the Red Cross board.

Prior to her resignation, the Red Cross board stood by Chadha, and
the Red Cross's national director for public affairs and
government relations, Pam Aung Thin, defended her as a "valued
member" of the organization's governing body, while saying that
Chadha would remain but would not stand for reelection to the
board when her term expired in June. The board previously
expressed its need for Chadha's board organization skills.

The board's display of an organizational tin ear provoked at least
one board member, Peter Robinson from the David Suzuki Foundation,
to quit. The Montreal Gazette quoted one Red Cross volunteer who
said she wouldn't return to the organization, given that her
father died of mesothelioma. Finally, Chadha has decided to resign
from the board immediately even though her term still had months
to go.

Explain the Red Cross's behavior, please. Asbestos is a fully
documented danger to people's health. Balcorp is doing open-pit
mining in Quebec, which Americans know is a life- and community-
destroying activity from the tragedy of Libby, Mont. Balcorp is
exporting the asbestos for use in developing nations, which seems
likely to expose the people in those countries to the carcinogenic
effect of asbestos fibers. But an asbestos promoter sat on the Red
Cross board, which then defended her when challenged by anti-
asbestos campaigners- Why would a health/humanitarian organization
maintain someone who is associated with promoting a documented
health danger on its board?

ASBESTOS UPDATE: New Canaan Settles Lawsuit With O&G/AP
Matt Dalen, Assistant Editor at The New Canaan Advertiser, reports
that the town of New Canaan has settled with two of the defendants
in its long-percolating lawsuit to recover some of the cost of
removing asbestos from New Canaan High School, a problem which
drove the renovation of the high school $13.4 million over the
original $61.5 million budget. After settling with Brooks
Laboratories for $1.8 million in 2007, the town has settled with
O&G/AP, the project's general contractors, leaving only architect
Kaestle Boos Associates (KBA) as a defendant.

"The settlement agreement between the town and O&G/AP has allowed
the town of New Canaan to move forward with a very strong case
against KBA," First Selectman Rob Mallozzi III said. "KBA was the
party that was the architectural firm. . . .  They had the main
responsibility for the asbestos abatement."

Under the terms of the settlement, which was approved by the Board
of Selectmen earlier this month, O&G/AP will pay $200,000 to the
town to settle its claims, while the town will pay O&G/AP $200,000
as well in order to settle several counter-claims. In addition,
the town will indemnify O&G/AP for up to $200,000 in case KBA sues
them in relation to this case.

"We've put a lot of time and effort into this process over the
years," said Paul Foley, who headed the town committee overseeing
the asbestos lawsuits. "Per our attorney's advice, which we take
very seriously, it was decided to pursue this route against the

The high school

The renovation and expansion of New Canaan High School began in
2003, with an estimated budget of $61.5 million, and ended in 2007
with the clipping of a crimson ribbon and a total budget of $74.9
million, minus $14.1 million in state reimbursements, originally
anticipated to be about $10.6 million.

It added 44,984 square feet of space to the school and renovated
some 274,445 square feet, adding a new multipurpose room, six
general purpose classrooms, a greenhouse, two language
laboratories, four faculty workrooms, a modernized 942-seat
auditorium, a 6,000-square-foot activity gym, and many other

When asbestos was found throughout the school, the entire project
had to be reworked.

The budget for asbestos abatement, initially $750,000, ballooned
to more than $13 million, and the subject of how the project was
handled became a major issue in the 2007 town elections.

The lawsuits

The town had sought more than $6 million in damages from the four
companies, alleging that Brooks Laboratories, which was the
asbestos consultant initially hired for the renovation, had not
properly advised the town of the "true condition and extent" of
asbestos in the school and had prepared an inaccurate budget

Brooks settled the town's claims in 2007 for about $1.8 million,
the full amount of its available insurance, but admitted to no
wrongdoing. After paying legal and consulting bills, the town's
share of that settlement was about $900,000, according to town
officials at the time.

Brooks Laboratories had argued that Kaestle Boos Associates and
O&G/AP should share in the liability because the architectural
firm failed to properly estimate the abatement budget and the
general contractors had failed to revise budget estimates and
improperly scheduled contractors, leading to "significant cost
overruns," according to legal filings.

The town's law firm, Stamford-based Silver, Golub & Teitell, is
paid on a contingency fee basis, receiving a percentage of any
award or settlement. The firm received $63,666 in legal fees in
relation to this settlement.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Weitz & Luxenberg Client to Get $7.5MM in Accord
A California construction worker who developed a highly aggressive
form of cancer after exposure to asbestos has received $7.5
million in settlement of legal claims against six companies that
manufactured or distributed asbestos-cement pipe, the law firm
Weitz & Luxenberg, PC, announced (docket number 153777, Butte
County Superior Court, Chico, Calif.).

The man, 57, whose identity and current city of residence are
withheld at his request, sued last August after he was diagnosed
less than one year earlier with mesothelioma, an always fatal
cancer linked to asbestos exposure, according to court documents.

Weitz & Luxenberg attorney Daniel Wasserberg, Esq., said, "Our
client was a construction worker who, in the 1970s and 1980s,
helped install underground water and sewer lines. These pipes -- 6
to 48 inches in diameter -- were made of a concrete-asbestos
composite material for strength but also for ease of fabrication.
The defendants made, sold or delivered them."

The plaintiff's job in part was to cut asbestos-concrete pipes so
they could be properly laid and connected beneath public and
private streets in and around the Sacramento Valley city of Chico,
court documents show.

However, according to the court filing, the task of cutting this
particular type of pipe posed extreme health risks.

"Our client performed his work with a gasoline-operated saw," said
Brent Zadorozny, Esq., a Weitz & Luxenberg California mesothelioma
attorney. "The cuts generated an enormous amount of cement-
asbestos dust, which flew in every direction from the saw's
whirring blades and engine exhaust blast. This veritable snowstorm
of asbestos dust was at times so thick you couldn't see the person
standing three feet away from you."

By the end of each workday, the plaintiff was covered from head to
toe in a thick layer of asbestos dust, said Stephen Healy, another
Weitz & Luxenberg California mesothelioma attorney and the author
of a law textbook on asbestos litigation.

Asbestos is a mineral once widely used in the U.S. as an
ingredient in the manufacture of more than 3,000 consumer and
industrial products, including shipboard thermal insulation,
automobile brake pads, and home roofing and siding products.
However, inhalation of "asbestos dust and particles is known to
cause malignant mesothelioma, lung cancer, other cancers,
asbestosis, and other life-threatening health problems that
typically surface decades after exposure," explained Healy.

Malignant mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that affects the
thin membranes lining organs in the chest (pleura) and abdomen
(peritoneum), Healy said. "Mesothelioma is closely linked with
asbestos; the only known and scientifically established cause of
malignant mesothelioma is from asbestos exposure," he continued.
"Malignant mesothelioma is generally fatal within eight to 16
months of initial onset of symptoms."

In the litigation just settled, the defendants -- two from
Southern California, the others from out of state -- contended
there was no asbestos exposure because their products were not
delivered to the construction sites where the plaintiff worked or
at the times he worked there, court records show.

The Weitz & Luxenberg California mesothelioma lawyers countered
with documents they uncovered indicating that the pipes at issue
were in fact delivered where and when the plaintiff worked, said
Benno Ashrafi, Esq., head of Weitz & Luxenberg in Los Angeles.

"As so often happens in these kinds of cases, the key to
eventually prevailing is solid detective work," Ashrafi said.
"It's a lot like looking for a needle in a haystack because the
evidence is often buried way down deep somewhere within thousands
and thousands of pages of records. Weitz & Luxenberg happens to be
exceptionally good at hunting down information we hope will tip
the scales of justice in favor of our clients."

The trial originally was to be held in Los Angeles, although the
injury occurred in and around Chico. "Los Angeles was where most
of our client's expert witnesses were," explained Ari Friedman,
Esq., a Weitz & Luxenberg Los Angeles office California
mesothelioma attorney who also worked on the case. "However,
despite our objections, the defendants were able to have the trial
be moved to Chico, more than 400 miles to the north. In the end,
this did nothing to prevent us from fully pressing our case. If
anything, the relocation handed us yet another opportunity to
demonstrate that Weitz and Luxenberg will go anywhere and do
everything to fight for justice for our clients."

                      About Weitz & Luxenberg

Founded in 1986 by attorneys Perry Weitz and Arthur Luxenberg,
Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C. -- http://www.weitzlux.com/-- today ranks
among the nation's leading law firms. Weitz & Luxenberg has
secured more than $6.5 billion in verdicts and settlements for its
clients. The firm's numerous practice areas include: asbestos and
mesothelioma, defective medicines and devices, environmental
pollutants, accidents, personal injury, and medical malpractice.
Victims of accidents are invited to rely on Weitz & Luxenberg's
more than 25 years of handling such cases -- begin by contacting
the firm's Client Relations department at 1-800-476-6070 or at
clientrelations(at)weitzlux(dot)com and ask for a free legal

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Biloela House Demolished After Suspicious Fire
Hayley Turner at Central Telegraph reports that a Biloela house
gutted by a suspicious fire on Friday, January 13 has been

A specialist traveled from the Gold Coast to work with a team of
seven men to carefully remove the Gerard St home without stirring
burnt asbestos fibres.

Contractor David Hose, from DJ and MA Hose, said it took the men
two days to clear the structure, clean what was left at the site
and scrape the grass off.

"When something like that burns down, it poses a problem," Mr Hose

"Because when asbestos is burnt it goes to powder, so that's when
things have got to be cleaned up in a hurry.

"If you get a windy day, the dust starts flying around. It's

"We were running the hose and had suds to keep it all contained.

"We had to have a hygienist on site as well.

"He came up from the Gold Coast and watches to make sure
everything is done properly."

Objects in the yard also had to be cleaned.

"Out the back there's a swing. There's a bird aviary and
clothesline and what we've got to do, we've got to decontaminate

Mr Hose said there were a lot of houses being destroyed by fire.

"We do them all the time.

"We're from Maryborough but we're all over the place (for work).

"Actually, people rang today and we've got to go to Bundaberg to
look at one there."

Police investigations into the fire are continuing.

Officers are calling for anyone who saw a vehicle on the street
that wasn't normally parked there to contact Crime Stoppers on
1800 333 000.

A mother-of-four lost all her belongings in the blaze.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: March 26 Hearing Set Over 2013 Asbestos Docket
Christina Stueve of The Madison/St. Clair Record reports that
Madison County Associate Judge Clarence Harrison will hear
requests for changes to a preliminary order assigning trial weeks
for the 2013 asbestos docket on March 26.

The preliminary order in question was entered on Dec. 1 by Madison
County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder, who was formerly in charge
of the asbestos docket.

Harrison said that lawyers who wish to file objections, exceptions
and related motions along with proposed alternatives, including
proposed orders, must do so by March 10.

In the preliminary order, Crowder set nearly 500 trial dates for

She was reassigned from the asbestos docket on Dec. 12, after it
was learned she had accepted $30,000 in campaign contributions
from asbestos lawyers who received favorable treatment in the
preliminary order.

Lawyers at the Simmons firm in Alton and lawyers at the
Edwardsville firms of Goldenberg Heller and Gori and Julian made
the contributions. The firms also received 82 percent of the trial
settings for 2013.

Crowder said on Dec. 21 that she had done nothing that violated
the code of judicial conduct and that her campaign committee did
nothing that violated it or the law. She also directed her
treasurer to return donations to avoid issues when she became
aware of the situation.

Crowder returned the donations on Dec. 16, according to a report
filed with the Illinois State Board of Elections.

She was elected circuit judge in 2006 and is up for retention in
November's general election.

                          One of Its Kind

Nicholas J.C. Pistor at stltoday.com relates that the slots at the
Madison County Courthouse can lead to big-dollar payouts that
rival anything at a casino.

These so-called slots aren't machines with flashing lights but
hundreds of entries on a docket, a legal word for a court
schedule.  They reserve trial dates for asbestos damage cases that
may not even have been filed yet.

In theory, a court date can be waiting for someone who hasn't
filed suit or hasn't even learned he's sick.

A political fundraising controversy last month led to the
replacement of the judge in charge of the docket.  It also drew
attention to a unique asbestos litigation fast-track process that
is lauded for rushing millions of dollars into the pockets of the
dying but criticized for rushing millions into the pockets of
their lawyers.

Ordinarily, someone claiming damages files a lawsuit in his name,
and the case is put on a civil trial docket as the first step on
the road to trial.  Often, both sides eventually agree to a
financial settlement rather than risk the uncertainties of a

But Madison County attracts so many asbestos-related cases that
years ago its courts devised a special process to manage them.
Law firms with that specialty are assigned blocks of trial dates
in their own name, and lawsuits are filled in as they're filed.

Proponents say it's efficient.  Opponents say it's unfairly
efficient, providing plaintiffs' firms with a hammer to force
defendants -- invariably asbestos manufacturers or businesses that
used the product -- into acquiescence on what effectively is a
judicial assembly line.

The issue smoldered for years among legal and business interests.
But it burst into full flame after Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder's
retention election campaign fund accepted $30,000 in contributions
from plaintiffs' firm lawyers in December, just days after she
allotted the slots for 2013.

She denied any connection, calling the order "one of those
straightforward, innocuous things every judge does" that falls
within long-established standards.

But the timing looked bad enough that Chief Judge Ann Callis moved
her off asbestos cases last month, County Board Chairman Alan
Dunstan called for an investigation and Crowder returned the

Madison County is a logical asbestos lawsuit hub.  Its heavy
industries used the material for fireproofing for many years --
before doctors determined that if inhaled, its fibers can cause
deadly lung complications.  The area's heavily unionized residents
filled juries perceived as worker-friendly.  The local legal
community already developed a specialty in personal injury law by
pursuing cases for rail and barge workers injured around the
country, a cottage industry that drew its own controversy a
generation ago.

In the 1980s, Madison County saw hundreds of asbestos cases filed
by workers exposed to the material at workplaces including Granite
City Steel, Laclede Steel Co. in Alton, the Shell Oil refinery in
Roxana, the Amoco refinery in Wood River and the Clark refinery in

By 2011, 953 asbestos cases were filed, tying the county's record
high in 2003, when a Post-Dispatch review found that at least $1
billion in claims were resolved there.  Almost all were settled
before trial.  And almost all involved plaintiffs who were not
from Madison County, suing defendants that did some kind of
business there.

Dan Stack, a retired judge who handed the asbestos duties over to
Crowder in 2010, said the dedicated docket was created more than
25 years ago so one judge could specialize in the complicated
litigation and ease its burden on the courts.  The slot
reservation system was added as an improvement, he noted.

Critics such as Lisa A. Rickard, president of the U.S. Chamber
Institute for Legal Reform, say the setup allows law firms to
"harvest" clients from throughout the country and "extort" high-
dollar settlements in a fast-paced environment that cripples a
defendant's ability to prepare for trial.

Asbestos cases have spawned defense specialty firms as well, but
they have been hesitant to criticize or praise the system,
privately citing a fear of retribution from judges or the
corporations they defend.  Several declined to comment for this

Rickard noted that defense firms profit from the system as well.

She said Madison County's asbestos docket appears to be the only
one of its kind in the nation.

John Leubsdorf, a Rutgers University law professor who specializes
in ethics, said, "It doesn't make much sense" to build a system on
law firms rather than plaintiffs.  "It reminds me of back in the
18th century, when judges used to hear cases from lawyers in the
order of (the lawyer's) seniority."  That way, he said, "The
senior lawyers would end up getting all of the cases."

He added, "Obviously, we don't do that anymore."

Last year, a group of corporations contested the reservation
system in court, complaining that the trial slots exceeded local

"This oversupply of trial dates attracts out-of-state plaintiffs
who have the incentive to forum shop, file with a local
plaintiffs' firm with empty future trial slots, and guarantee
themselves a trial date within 8, 9, or 10 months of filing," said
a motion, signed by law firms representing corporations, including
Ford, General Electric and CBS.

Crowder kept the system in place.

Most Madison County asbestos cases involve mesothelioma, a deadly
cancer that can form after even a minimal exposure.  All of
Illinois had 137 mesothelioma diagnoses in 2007, the most recent
year with statistics available.  In 2010, court papers show, 506
mesothelioma-related cases filled in the reserved slots in Madison

Stack, the retired judge, noted, "These cases are going to be
filed somewhere." He said it's easier for corporations to defend
themselves in one common venue than in courts scattered across the

He said the reserved slots cut through bureaucracy to rush relief
to injured workers who are often in their last days.

"These plaintiffs are dying, and it allows them to get into court
quickly," he explained.  "If they get the money six months before
they die, it gives them peace of mind and resolution that their
family will be okay."

Michael Angelides, of the Alton-based plaintiffs' firm Simmons
Browder Gianaris Angelides & Barnerd, called the system "the best
in the country," getting cases to the trial stage in six to 12
months .  He said most of his own cases are on file with real
plaintiffs before the slots are given.  "I can't speak for anyone
else," he added.

The firm's website says it has recovered more than $4 billion in
claims, although it's unclear how much was in Madison County.

The other firms represented in the donations were Goldenberg
Heller Antognoli & Rowland, and Gori Julian & Associates, which
both have offices in Edwardsville.

A 93-page standing court order controls operation of the asbestos
docket.  The judge schedules 28 trial weeks a year with 19 slots
per week.  At the beginning of the trial week, a judge can
consolidate some of the cases based on various factors, including
commonality of work site, trade union and disease.  Most cases are
settled, so trials are rare.

"It's like an army budgeting its supply," Stack said.  "You look
at past performance.  You know certain firms have more business
than others.  Without this, it leaves the defendant without any
anticipation of what is to come in the following year."

He noted that with this efficiency, "one-fourth of all asbestos
cases filed in the U.S. get resolved in Madison County every

Rickard claims that most defendants don't know which of those 19
cases will actually go to trial until the start of the week,
putting them at a disadvantage.

When big asbestos cases have gone to trial, results went to both
extremes.  In 2003, a jury awarded a then-U.S. record $250 million
to an Indiana man who had sued U.S. Steel.  But when Ford Motor
Company made a rare move and contested an asbestos claim at trial
in 2010, it won.

Crowder, who was elected circuit judge in 2006, quietly handled
family court matters for years before being assigned to replace
the departing Stack.

She is up for a retention vote in the Nov. 6 election, needing
approval of 60 percent to keep her job.

Under an Illinois Supreme Court rule, her campaign was allowed to
begin fundraising Nov. 6.  Crowder preliminarily assigned the
asbestos docket earlier than in previous years.  On Dec. 1, she
preliminarily assigned about 500, mostly to three large firms.

That also was the day her husband, lawyer Lawrence Taliana, signed
paperwork as campaign chairman to organize her political
committee.  It received donations of $5,000 each from four of
those firms' lawyers on Dec. 5, and donations of $1,000 each from
10 others the next day.

One contributing lawyer told a reporter that Taliana solicited the
money and specified the $10,000 per firm that was received.  The
donation became public on routine financial disclosure forms and
lit a firestorm in the courthouse.

Callis, the chief judge, quickly reassigned Crowder, citing
concerns for "the public trust in a fair and unbiased judiciary."
Others, including Dunstan, the county board chairman, demanded a
probe.  The state Judicial Inquiry Board, which operates in
secret, is presumed to be investigating.

Last week, state Reps. Dwight Kay, R-Glen Carbon, and Paul Evans,
R-O'Fallon, introduced legislation that would require judges to
recuse themselves if an attorney in a case has contributed more
than $500 over five years and if the other side files an

Callis referred all questions about the reservation system to
judges directly involved in it.

Judge Clarence W. Harrison, whom Callis named to take over the
docket, said he is still trying to understand its nuances, and
plans a hearing in March to review Crowder's order and take

Illinois judges are barred from personally soliciting
contributions, but their committees can.  A Supreme Court rule
says judges 'shall encourage members of the candidate's family to
adhere to the same standards of political conduct in support of
the candidate as apply to the candidate."

Crowder removed her husband as campaign manager and returned the

In an interview for this story, Crowder would not say specifically
what and when she knew of the donations.  "Clearly I heard about
it later," she said.

She insisted she did nothing wrong, and that the donations, which
are legal, had no impact on her judicial performance.  "When you
walk into a courtroom, you're a judge and you do it fairly,"
Crowder said.

She also said she had sought input from lawyers on both sides and
that, "In my personal opinion, nobody got exactly what they

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce seized on the incident to
characterize the system as "a type of asbestos lawsuit futures
market of immense value to those plaintiffs' firms who have been
assigned court slots."  The chamber said, "It is this compromised
system that is the root of the cash-for-trials scandal which
caused Judge Crowder's reassignment."

Ex-judge Stack acknowledged that the circumstances don't look
good, but steadfastly defended the system.

"The dates aren't sold," Stack insisted.  "Never have been.  This
recent ignorant act by Judge Crowder and her husband made it look
horrible.  But that's not what they were doing.  I don't believe

It remains unclear how long the supply of asbestos plaintiffs --
and the special docket here -- will last.  Much of its use has
been banned in the U.S. since the 1970s.  But symptoms may not set
in for 30 to 50 years after exposure, according to the National
Institutes of Health.

Lawyers may someday have to look abroad for business.  A 2011
study said Asia now accounts for 64% of the world's asbestos use.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Durfee Firm to Convert Old Bldgs to Rental Units
Michael Holtzman of The Herald News reports that after six months
of negotiations, the Providence-based lone bidders Benjamin
Burbank and Kevin and David Ryan, as 64 Durfee St. LLC, obtained
in October the former trade school and community college, vacant
for a decade between the waterfront and downtown.  The aim of the
contractor-developer partnership is to convert the series of
mostly century-old buildings on one square block into 40-plus
live-work rental units.

The progress: Project shut down

One month ago, the Building Department, in concert with the state
Department of Environmental Protection, issued a "cease and
desist" order. "They're pulling up asbestos without a permit, and
that's a problem," Building Inspector Joseph Biszko said.

The response

Representative of Redevelopment Authority, which sold the
property, sent the second of two letters on Jan. 13 asking for a
"written status update." None has been provided to date, according
to Kenneth Fiola Jr.

Durfee Tech partners

Ben Burbank: "As we said before, we're not behind schedule. We
always knew the asbestos had to go . . .  We were surprised we
couldn't keep cleaning out all the debris and that they wanted the
asbestos to be taken out first . . .  Kevin and I are as eager as
ever to get this project completed."

Kevin Ryan: "We have engaged an abatement design firm and will
submit a plan shortly." Ryan said he sent Redevelopment Authority
a written account.

The uncertainty

The state DEP must approve those plans before asbestos mitigation
and the project can resume. Timetable unknown.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Voters to Decide Mine Inclusion on Superfund List
The Associated Press reports that voters in Lowell and Eden are
going to vote on whether to request that an abandoned asbestos
mine be declared a federal Superfund hazardous waste site so it
can be cleaned up and eventually redeveloped as a biomass power

Officials with the Lamoille Economic Development Corporation said
a developer is interested in the site, but the tailings from the
mine must be cleaned up first.  In the past, officials have said
cleaning up the mine could cost more than $200 million.

"Cleaning the mines up will take a long time, probably about 10
years," said Vermont Electric Cooperative CEO Dave Hallquist, who
is working with the Lamoille Corporation.  "However, at the end of
that time-frame, this location will be ready, and the markets will
be ready for local bio-mass to become an important part of our
energy picture."

Last year people in the two towns were asked to support declaring
the mine a federal Superfund site, but the Caledonian Record --
http://bit.ly/AlgMl0-- reports that townspeople who attended
meetings on the issue last summer were opposed because they feared
their property values would go down.

Hallquist said he understood the reluctance of some to agree to
label their community a Superfund site, but the community hasn't
heard the arguments for economic development at the site once it
is cleaned up.

"We really can see a good proposal for a 6-megawatt plant,"
Hallquist said.  "It's a great location.  It would have to be
cleaned up first."

Gov. Peter Shumlin and his two predecessors have said they would
not ask the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to put the mine
on the Superfund list unless there was community support for it.

The asbestos mine, located on 1,500 acres, operated in the two
towns for nearly a century, closing in 1993.

Meetings on the vote are scheduled for next month.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Hazards Spook Demolition Men at Bonded Station
Chuck Martin at Mount Vernon News reports a short delay has been
encountered in the demolition of the old Bonded station at the
intersection of Sandusky and Chestnut streets.  Mount Vernon Mayor
Richard Mavis said reports of asbestos in the old building sent
the workers away while the U.S. EPA has been contacted to check
out the building.

If they find anything, a special contractor will be hired to
remove the asbestos.  The situation will probably cause about a
10-day delay in clearing the lot, Mavis said.

The demolition of the building is actually being done by a crew
working for Mark Ramser, who bought the lot with the understanding
he would resell it to the city.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Luna Park's Hazmat Registration Not Updated
Cameron Houston of The Age, Victoria, reports Luna Park's beaming
smile has concealed a potentially dangerous secret that was
revealed only when WorkSafe Victoria inspectors visited the St.
Kilda amusement park last year.

Asbestos was discovered in a tower that supports the face-shaped
structure and was immediately removed when the iconic fun park was
closed to the public in June last year.

WorkSafe issued a safety improvement order to Luna Park
management, which had failed to update a mandatory register for
hazardous materials for more than 10 years, according to documents
obtained under freedom of information.

The breach of occupational health and safety laws was discovered
when former CFMEU state secretary Martin Kingham was employed by
Luna Park to oversee restoration works.  Mr. Kingham was also a
former Victorian president of the Asbestos Diseases Society of
Australia, who led several anti-asbestos campaigns during the

"Mr. Kingham provided me with an asbestos register for this
workplace and I noted that it was developed in May 2001, which was
more than five years old," a WorkSafe report stated.

Asbestos registers must be reviewed and, if necessary, updated
every five years under Victorian legislation.

Luna Park executive director Mary Stuart insisted the fun park was
safe for visitors, after a comprehensive audit of the tourist
attraction last year.

Ms. Stuart said the deadly material had not posed a threat to the
public, as it had not become friable or powder-like (the form in
which asbestos is most dangerous).  "We take our responsibility in
terms of health and safety very seriously," she said.

Trucking magnate Lindsay Fox bought the 99-year-old amusement park
for AUD5 million in 2005.  WorkSafe has found serious breaches of
safety guidelines over the past decade.

Electrical improvements were ordered for the Shock Drop ride in
2005, when a platform rose four meters in the air, with children
unsecured in their seats.

In May the same year, five children were stranded for 90 minutes
after a wheel came off the Metropolis roller-coaster.  The same
ride struck problems in 2008, when a roll-back catch fell from a

ASBESTOS UPDATE: MSU to Tear Down Contaminated "Monopoly Houses"
The Associated Press reports Montana State University plans to
tear down about 55 so-called "Monopoly houses" that for decades
housed students.

"They're just wearing out," said Tom Stump, MSU director of
auxiliary services, "The majority are already vacant.  The floor
joists are failing.  They have asbestos siding, asbestos in the

The houses are scheduled to be torn down this summer as part of a
$9.1 million project to save energy, the Bozeman Daily Chronicle
reported -- http://bit.ly/yJZgMl  The school has been paying to
heat the houses built in the 1950s so water pipes don't freeze
even though all but 12 are vacant.

Once the houses are removed the land will be maintained as a
grassy area.  The school eventually plans to build new academic
buildings in the area.

The plan to save energy includes $2.6 million to install energy-
efficient lights in the Field House, North and South Hedges,
Roskie, Johnstone and Hannon Hall dorms.

The school also plans to spend $3.4 million to install double-
paned windows in three dorms, replacing windows and light fixtures
that are more than 60 years old.

"I'm really excited about this project," Stump said.  "Ultimately,
we're going to have a better living environment for students in
the residence halls."

He said neither state taxpayers' money nor student tuition money
will be used.  He said $4.5 million will come from deferred
maintenance funds, and money saved from room and board fees
charged to students.

He said the remaining money will be borrowed from the state Board
of Investments, to be paid back over 15 years using money saved on
energy bills.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Tests Confirm Vermiculite in 7 Kawartha Schools
Brendan Wedley of the PeterBorough Examiner reports the teachers
union wants school board to get speed up cleanup of vermiculite
containing asbestos in area schools.

When a plow truck struck a water tap on an outside wall of Keith
Wightman Public School last winter, it opened a floodgate of
health, safety and labor issues with the discovery of insulation
material containing asbestos.

Workers found the vermiculite containing asbestos when they
repaired the water tap in May.  Since then, tests have confirmed
the presence of vermiculite containing asbestos in seven other
schools in Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board, including
three more in the Peterborough area: Westmount Public School in
the city's west end, North Cavan Public School in Cavan Monaghan
Township and Norwood District High School in Norwood.

When asbestos gets into the air that people breathe, it can cause
scarring of the lungs and lung cancer, according to Health Canada.

Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario president Sam Hammond

There's no scientific evidence of health risks if vermiculite
containing asbestos is left undisturbed and enclosed behind walls
or under floorboards, Health Canada states.

But it has escaped through holes in walls in some schools, leading
the school board to put in place a monitoring and management

The Ministry of Labour stepped in after a complaint.  It ordered a
more extensive inspection and cleanup or containment of the
insulation material at Keith Wightman when an inspector found
vermiculate had leaked through an opening in the wall into a room
in the school Sept. 26.

The Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario had took the issue
to the Ontario Labour Relations Board in a bid to force the school
board to take a more aggressive approach to the cleanup and
containment of vermiculite in its schools.

"It's not okay to just go in and sweep it up and just patch the
hole.  You've got to deal with the problem," Elementary Teachers
Federation of Ontario president Sam Hammond said.

Teachers, staff and parents have been told about the issue.

On Nov. 30, the school board sent a letter to parents and
guardians who have children at the schools where there's

It told parents that asbestos is not in the air at the schools and
the board has taken steps to maintain a healthy environment in the

"We prohibited any drilling of walls in these schools," said
Marianne Hendren, the occupational health and safety team leader
with the school board.  "It's in the walls.  It's not a hazard."

There have been no health claims or issues associated with the
asbestos in the schools, Hendren said.

A Ministry of Labour inspector found vermiculite under a sink in
Keith Wightman School before the ministry issued the order to the
school board Sept. 27.

"It would appear that this material has been present for some time
and has been 'swept' back into the corner from where it
originates.  The neat little pile observed and the wipe marks
indicate someone has been trying to contain it.  Paper has been
stuffed into the broken cinder block wall cavity," the inspector
states in the order.

The school board responded by closing down a section of the school
while it was inspected and work was done to make sure the
insulation is contained behind walls.  And it started a monthly
inspection of the schools and other buildings it identified as
containing vermiculate with asbestos -- bringing in a contractor
to properly clean any spills.

Vermiculite was found in a fire hose cabinet at Keith Wightman
Public School in the city's south end.

Vermiculite was found under the stage at Orono Public School.

School board officials provided a copy of the Ministry of Labour
Occupational Health and Safety Order to The Examiner.

The monthly inspections will end in two months.

At that point, the school board will review the findings and
decide how to move forward with its asbestos remediation program,
said Mark Galonski, senior manager of facilities with the school

"That will be a pivotal point," he said, adding the goal is to
have no leakage of vermiculite into the schools.  "If it's
contained, it's undisturbed, it's safe."

Galonski commented that removing the insulation would be "a tall

Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board has experience dealing
with asbestos in its schools.

In 1998, it undertook a $5-million asbestos cleanup at Thomas A.
Stewart Secondary School (TASSS).  And it has an ongoing asbestos
management plan that includes regular inspections at the school.

The asbestos at TASSS is one of the reasons trustees decided to
close PCVS after this school year rather than closing TASSS and
moving the school board's offices into the school building on
Armour Rd.  Any renovations to convert part of the school into the
school board's offices would require assessment and removal of
asbestos, helping to increase the estimated costs for the
conversion to $10 million, consultants found.

TASSS isn't on the list of schools containing vermiculite with
asbestos because its asbestos is found in another type of
insulation, board spokeswoman Judy Malfara said.

Asbestos is an issue for school boards across the province,
superintendent of human resources Scott Pollard said.

The school board wants its staff and students to feel safe and be
safe, he said.

The school board needs to do more than monthly inspections,
Hammond said.

"It's a concern to our members.  It should be a concern to parents
in terms of children in the schools," he said.  "It's significant
. . .  Let's do something about it now because it's a risk."

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Student Center Demolition to Complete by Feb. 10
TheDay.com Connecticut reports that the demolition of the student
center at the Avery Point campus of the University of Connecticut
has began after a several month delay due to asbestos abatement.

According to a press release, the contractor has began preparing
the area for the demolition.  The road from the traffic circle to
the library will be one-way, exit only, for two weeks, beginning
Jan. 30.

Pedestrians also are asked to avoid that stretch of road during
that period.  Pedestrian access from the student parking lot to
the academic building and library should be cutting across the
green, or behind the police station and across to the community
and professional building.

Demolition likely will begin between 8:00 and 8:30 a.m.
Spectators are welcome.  Demolition of the building should take
from three to five days.  Removal of the debris should take
another three to five days, and should be completed by Feb. 10.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: BMHA Hires Arric Corp, Stohl and MS Analytical
metroWNY.com reports that Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority
officials announced on Jan. 28, 2012, that certified contractors
will remove controlled amounts of asbestos-containing materials
from mostly non-tenant areas in all buildings at Marine Drive

The seven work areas include boiler rooms, mechanical operations
areas and a maintenance shop.  The work involves an average of 318
square feet per area.  The work will be done sequentially for
about a week each between Jan. 31 and March 26, and will include a
few tenant areas.

"This removal process will be done under the strictest conditions
and according to New York State code to insure the health and
safety of tenants, their guests and BMHA staff," said Dawn E.
Sanders, BMHA executive director.  "Everyone involved should rest
assured that every measure will be taken to protect health and

Once the process begins, affected areas will be off limits to all
but certified workers until the removal is completed and air
sampling tests show it is safe to re-occupy.

The work will be accomplished by a certified and licensed New York
State asbestos abatement contractor, Arric Corp., monitored by a
certified and licensed New York air-monitoring firm, Stohl
Environmental, and lab tested by MS Analytical.

BMHA officials explained that if removal of asbestos becomes
necessary in ways that affect tenants, they will be reimbursed for
a temporary move elsewhere.  Marine Drive managers and BMHA
officials met today with tenants to discuss the process and answer

Last summer, seven workers at Marine Drive Apartments improperly
disturbed asbestos to fix a leaking water valve and then replaced
others like it.  The workers, all of whom wore masks, protective
suits and gloves while performing the work, had no subsequent
health complaints and residents were unaffected.

BMHA, in compliance with state and federal regulations, requires
that only a licensed asbestos-removal contractor handle the
material.  The incident last summer was believed to be the first
time BMHA workers violated authority asbestos-removal rules.

The authority investigation determined the work covered a total of
30 to 35 hours on seven non-consecutive days between Aug. 10 and
Aug. 23, 2011, in several buildings in the waterfront complex.
The workers acted when a water valve failed and began leaking.
The workers then determined that similar valves could produce the
same problem and replaced several of them.

The BMHA subsequently instituted asbestos awareness training for
its employees at its complexes and also reviewed and strengthened
reporting procedures.

Marine Drive Apartments has 616 one-, two-, three-, and four-
bedroom apartments in seven, 12-story buildings on 10 acres.  The
BMHA has always owned the buildings, which opened in 1952, and
resumed management of them Feb. 1, 2011.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: House Bill 380 Passed Congress With A 55-41 Vote
John O'Brien of Legal Newsline reports that a bill that would
require plaintiffs in asbestos lawsuits to disclose the claims
they've made for recovery to bankruptcy trusts passed the Ohio
House of Representatives on Jan. 25.

House Bill 380, sponsored by a group of Republicans, passed with a
55-41 vote.

Bankruptcy trusts were set up by companies that were frequently
involved in asbestos litigation to pay out claimants in a system
independent of the civil courts system, where victims of asbestos
exposure file lawsuits against still-solvent defendants.

"(A) claimant, under penalty of perjury, identifying all existing
asbestos trust claims made by or on behalf of the claimant and all
trust claims material pertaining to each identified asbestos trust
claim," the bill says.

"The sworn statement shall disclose the date on which each
asbestos trust claim against the relevant asbestos trust was made
and whether any request for a deferral, delay, suspension or
tolling of the asbestos trust claims process has been submitted."

The two sides of asbestos litigation have argued over whether
information from trust claims should be supplied to defendants.

One of the bill's sponsors, Rep. Lou Blessing, told the Columbus
Dispatch that "openness in legal proceedings is good and helps
ensure that justice is fairly administered."

Plaintiffs attorney Nathan Finch of Motley Rice said Jan. 20 at a
discussion of bankruptcy trusts that any reform to the system is
unnecessary.  The event was put on in Washington, D.C., by the
Congressional Civil Justice Caucus Academy.

"The whole idea that there is fraud and abuse because of a lack of
transparency is not supported by facts," Finch said.

Also at the discussion was defense attorney James Stengel.

"The critical information is what the plaintiffs are saying about
their asbestos exposure," he said.

That information, Stengel argues, could help determine which
companies bear the responsibility of paying the claimant.  A
plaintiff could omit any asbestos exposure resolved by the trust
system in his or her lawsuit, making it seem the defendants are at
fault for all injuries, Stengel feels.

If the information of other exposure were provided to defendants,
they could argue that they aren't wholly responsible.  He called
the trust system "parallel but distant."

"It may mean that the wrong people are paying," Stengel said.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Yorktown Abatement Job Goes to Bidder for $68,000
Plamena Pesheva at the Yorktown Patch relates that Patrick
Cumiskey, a construction project manager and a father of three
children, wakes up to an eye sore every day -- the Holland
Sporting Club property, which is located right across the street
from his Horton Drive home.

He and other residents who live in the area have been speaking to
town board members for years and asking them to find a solution
for the deteriorating town-owned property.

"The number of people that constantly enter these buildings, the
potential for vagrants taking up residency, fires out of control
that could spread through the woods and our neighboring houses,
kids falling through floors as they explore the buildings and the
considerable vandalism and dumping evident on and continuing to
the property," he told board members last week and urged them to
take immediate actions.

The Holland Sporting Club property has been sitting on the town's
capital project list for close to a year, but now it's a step
closer to having its buildings demolished.

Yorktown town board members voted unanimously on Jan. 24 to award
the asbestos abatement contract to the low bidder for $68,000.
However, the demolition contract bid was rejected.  Councilmen
Nick Bianco and Vishnu Patel voted in favor of awarding the bid,
but did not receive support from the rest of the board members.

In April 2011, the town decided to borrow $250,000 to knock down
the 11 buildings on site.  Former supervisor Susan Siegel said the
demolition bid, which was received on Dec. 16, was good for 60
days.  The total cost for the demolition and asbestos removal came
at about $150,000, or $100,000 less than what the town originally

Supervisor Michael Grace said the vote against awarding the
demolition contract should not be taken as a rejection of all the
bids; instead, the board is looking into demolishing the buildings
in-house, which he said would save the town money.

Cumiskey said the town should hire a professional demolition firm,
rather than let the highway department do the job.  He said that
if the town were to do the project, in addition to the cost of
renting dumpsters, there would be added out-of-pocket costs for
the rental of equipment, wear and tear on town equipment, disposal
costs, plus liability issues.

"I do not believe that our highway superintendent should do this,"
Councilman Nick Bianco agreed.  "I don't think that he is not
capable of doing the job, I think he is.  I don't think he should
get involved in this type of thing and have a spotlight be put on
himself once again."

Bianco said the highway department should use its manpower for
snow removal and drainage work.  Grace said the highway department
has the equipment to demolish the buildings, something Mohegan
Lake resident Patrick Cumiskey has questioned.

"The buildings have to come down," Siegel said.  "This is a
constant liability for the town.  I'm glad the town board decided
to spend the money to take care of the issue."

Although she was pleased to see that an asbestos abatement
contract was awarded, she expressed concerns that if the town were
to do the job, they would still need to pay a fee to get rid of
the construction materials, which she said the town nor the county
can collect.  There were also liability issues if a town worker
got injured working on a project of such a big scale.

The town was currently in the process of getting cost estimates
for the dumpster they would use.

Residents have threatened to sue and complained that the town has
been violating possibly hundreds of its own codes as well as state
codes, such as keeping yards, courts, and vacant lots free of
physical hazards; and maintaining all exterior property and

"I don't know where the town lost control of it, but it's a real
shame," supervisor Grace said referring to the deteriorating
conditions of the property, which according to records the town
officially acquired on May 24, 2005.

The Holland Sporting Club was once an exclusive posh summer resort
and weekend getaway.  Now the 14-acre lakeside property on Mohegan
Lake, located on a heavily wooded parcel of land, is not
maintained, the grass is unmowed, beer cans, glass and debris are
scattered about.  Graffiti is written all over the buildings by
people making their way in despite the "no trespassing" signs.

The Club dates back to the 1920s, when the property had a hotel,
cottages and two clay tennis courts, according to records, on
1,000 feet of lake frontage.  In 1915 the property was a resort
for the wealthy, called Rock Hill Lodge, and eventually it became
one of the last resort hotels in Westchester, housing more than
250 vacationers.

"It's a beautiful spot," Grace said.  "It's just a shame."

ASBESTOS UPDATE: $60,000 Fine Against AHNI for Health Violations
Trish Mehaffey of the SourceMedia Group News reports that a judge
assessed a $60,000 civil penalty against Affordable Housing
Network, Inc., for a number of asbestos-related violations which
occurred during a 2009-2010 renovation of the Hawthorne Hills
apartment complex.

In a petition filed on Jan. 25, 2012, in Linn County District
Court, Attorney General Thomas Miller claimed the Affordable
Housing Network, a non-profit organization that owns the 202-
apartment complex at 2262 C Street NW, conducted renovations in
2009 without taking the required precautions for asbestos.

Affordable Housing failed to inspect prior to renovation, failed
to notify the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, failed to
remove asbestos prior to activities that may cause its release and
mishandled the demolition waste containing asbestos during and at
the time of disposal, according to the petition.

The renovations included the removal of about 60,000 square feet
of asbestos containing floor tile and 2,000 square feet of
asbestos containing linoleum flooring, according to the petition.

According to the judgment, Affordable Housing admitted to the
violations for settlement purposes only and stated the violations
were unintentional.

In addition to the civil penalty assessed, 6th Judicial District
Senior Judge William Thomas permanently enjoined Affordable
Housing Network from further violations of the asbestos-handling

Four Oaks acquired the Hawthorne Hills apartments when the
previous non-profit that managed it went bankrupt and Affordable
was created to run the low-income housing complex and others as an
affiliate of Four Oaks.  Affordable Housing Network is also the
fiscal agent for the Block By Block flood home repair program.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Missoula Tries for $280,000 EPA Federal Grant
Kim Briggeman of the Missoulian relates that Missoula County is
going to try putting together an application for a pilot federal
grant to help remove traces of asbestos used in construction of
the annex to the county courthouse in the 1960s.

The involved process, which could cost more than a quarter million
dollars, is necessary as the county swings into a years-long
makeover of the annex this spring.

John Adams, brownfields grants administrator at the Office of
Planning and Grants, is still massaging out the numbers, but he
figures the application will be for "something on the order of

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has set aside $5.5
million for Brownfields Multi-Purpose Pilot Grants - multi-purpose
because unlike the others they cover both assessment and cleanup
of asbestos, Adams said.

"I'd say we've got about a one-in-five chance of getting it," said
Adams, who, as required, has submitted the project for public
review before the grant money is awarded.  That's another
deviation from standard procedure.

"It's really difficult to gauge the cities and counties that might
apply," he said.  "You're in a national competition so everybody
from San Francisco to Pittsburgh can apply."

There are some much larger brownfields projects out there, Adams
added.  "If you can imagine the kinds of toxics that may lie in
the rustbelt cities, that's where the public notification comes in
when you're thinking about doing something."

The county has budgeted $13 million for the entire annex
renovation, and asbestos treatment is already included in that.

"But we're hoping that we'll be able to get this grant money.  We
do have other grant moneys going toward the renovation," said
chief administrative officer Dale Bickell.

Asbestos was once a construction material of choice because of its
high tensile strength, its ability to be woven, and its resistance
to heat and most chemicals, the EPA website says.  That was before
it was also found to be extremely hazardous to your health,
especially your lungs, and has been for all practical purposes
outlawed in the U.S.  since 1989.

A 2004 remodel on the top floor of the four-story annex removed
asbestos from that floor, but also revealed where it was found

"When they insulated the pipe couplings, or right-angle bends,
when they built the thing in 1963 -- and they did that everywhere
in all buildings at that time -- they used asbestos to bind the
fiberglass together to make the bends," said Larry Farnes, the
county's director of facilities.  "Then they'd coat it with kind
of a plaster and wrap it in cloth."

It's contained in pipe cases now, but when construction starts
"we've got to remove the little bit that's around all the joints,"
Farnes said.

There's also some asbestos in the black mastic adhesive used to
tile the floors of the annex.  Department of Environmental Quality
testing during the 2004 work revealed no threat to public health
from the asbestos that remained.  But it'll all have to go, from
the annex basement on up to the third floor.

By 2017, the annex will have been renovated to provide an expanded
home in the basement for the 9-1-1 and emergency operations
services center, spokesperson Anne Hughes said.

Hughes said the first floor will house the clerk and recorder's
office, as well as the treasurer and the motor vehicles department
and a large public meeting room.  The sheriff's office takes over
the second floor, district courts the third, and the county
attorney's office the entire fourth floor.

The face-lift will happen in phases, so that departments will take
turns being displaced, Hughes said.  For instance, motor vehicles
will be housed on the second floor during first-floor renovation,
and the county attorney's office will share the fourth floor with
temporarily displaced employees for a time.

Asbestos abatement is a complex process that's required by the
Montana DEQ for any construction project in a building this old.
Farnes said three separate companies licensed in asbestos
treatment must be hired, and county workers can't do any of the

One company does the testing, a second does the removal while the
third monitors air quality.

To comment on the annex asbestos grant application, the public is
urged to contact Adams by Feb. 9 at 4:30 p.m.  That's the day
before the application is due.

Call Adams at (406) 258-368 or e-mail him at jadams@co.mt.us to
comment or to obtain a draft of the application.  Comment can also
be given at the commissioners' public meetings.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: ALEC Carped for Legislation Crafted to Help Crown
John Miller of The Associated Press reports that a national
bottle-top maker that's grown weary of some $700 million in
asbestos claims it's paid out to victims of lung disease has
arrived in the Idaho Legislature as part of its years-long, state-
by-state trudge to shield itself from forking over more cash.

Pennsylvania-based Crown Holdings, whose products include the tops
of soda pop and beer containers, has gotten help from the American
Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate-backed conservative
nonprofit, to broaden limits on asbestos claims against it
stemming from an ill-fated acquisition nearly 50 years ago.

Together, they've succeeded in winning legislative protections in
Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota,
Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas,
Wisconsin and Wyoming.

Crown's liabilities stem from the asbestos-tainted assets of a
small company it bought in 1963 for some $7 million.  While Crown
sold those assets just 90 days later, without ever manufacturing
asbestos products, it's since then paid out 100 times the purchase
price to people who have sued claiming their health was harmed, as
well as their lawyers.

"If Crown goes bankrupt because of the litigation, the current
employees will lose their jobs, their health care benefits and
their pensions," said Mark Behrens, a Washington, D.C.  lawyer who
advises the American Legislative Exchange Council and Crown, on
Friday.  "Crown is working hard to try to make sure that doesn't

Blocking Crown's path in Idaho, however, are lawyers who represent
potential victims of asbestos disease.

They are raising constitutional concerns, especially after courts
in Texas and Pennsylvania struck down portions of laws as recently
as 2010, for their provisions that sought to retroactively limit
pending claims against Crown.

The American Legislative Exchange Council has been criticized by
the national trial lawyers association, the American Association
for Justice, for helping to craft model legislation designed so
narrowly that it benefits just a single company, Crown.

Barbara Jorden, the Idaho Trial Lawyers Association lobbyist, said
the Idaho Constitution forbids lawmakers from passing new laws
that shield outfits like Crown from making good on their

And that includes health problems linked to asbestos, a naturally-
occurring material that until the 1970s was used commonly in
insulation but which can lead to fatal diseases such as
asbestosis, lung cancer, or mesothelioma when inhaled.

"They need to honor those responsibilities," said Jorden.  "It's
not as if the claims or injury has not occurred.  It has.  It's
simply who is responsible for taking care of that.  If it's not
Crown, then it's going to be the state of Idaho that pays to care
for the people have suffered these grave illnesses."

Jorden also said the company, with about $8 billion in annual
revenue last year, is using the unlikely specter of financial
collapse to frighten lawmakers into going along.

Attempts to shield corporations from billions of dollars' worth of
asbestos damages have come and gone over the last decade, in the
wake of lawsuits blamed for helping drive nearly 100 U.S.
companies out of business since 1982.

For instance, a 2003 measure in Congress to set up $108 billion
asbestos liability trust fund failed in the U.S.  Senate.

After that, Crown adopted a strategy of going from state to state
to limit its asbestos exposure, with 50,000 claims still pending
that the Philadelphia-based company estimates could cost it $250
million or more in future years, according to its 2010 annual

According to its measure awaiting a hearing in the Idaho House,
Crown's asbestos-related liabilities would be limited to the fair
market value of Mundet's total gross assets back at the time of
the merger.  Even adjusted for inflation, that would all but end
the possibility of big payouts.

Michael Dunleavy, a spokesman for Crown, didn't immediately return
a phone call seeking comment on Friday.

The bill's sponsor in Idaho, Rep.  Brent Crane, R-Nampa, declined
to comment.

But Behrens said the company began pushing legislation in places
like Pennsylvania, Texas and Mississippi as early as 2001, because
that's where the bulk of thousands of claims originated.  Last
year, Wyoming became the latest state to adopt protections for

And even though Crown has relatively little exposure to claims
from Idaho, with only about 10 cases pending, Behrens said it's
being included in the broad push for indemnity as part of efforts
to eventually satisfy lenders and investors wary of asbestos risk
who as a consequence demand higher interest rates to buy the
company's bonds or loan it money.

"Crown is trying to get this legislation passed in a number
states, enough to make the case to Wall Street that they should
not be forced to pay higher-than-prevailing interest rates because
of an unjustified asbestos risk," Behrens said.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Madison County Inspires Legislation On Hand-Outs
Steve Whitworth of The Telegraph reports that the controversy
about attorneys donating to a Madison County judge's political
campaign prompted two state lawmakers to propose legislation to
limit the impact of such contributions on court cases.

Last week, state Reps. Dwight Kay of Glen Carbon and Paul Evans of
O'Fallon, both Republicans, introduced legislation they said is
designed to keep judges from serving on cases where they may be
influenced by campaign donations from trial lawyers.

Last month, Chief 3rd Circuit Judge Ann Callis removed Circuit
Judge Barbara Crowder from all asbestos-related cases after it was
learned Crowder had accepted campaign contributions from defense
attorneys specializing in asbestos cases.

Crowder's campaign committee received $10,000 each from three
asbestos plaintiff firms: Gori, Julian and Associates; Goldenberg,
Heller, Antognoli and Rowland; and the Simmons Law Firm.  The
contributions were made just days after Crowder signed a
preliminary order that gave the majority of the trial slots for
the 2013 docket to those same firms.

Madison County Board Chairman Alan Dunstan, D-Troy, has filed a
complaint with the Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board to investigate
whether Crowder committed misconduct by accepting the
contributions.  Crowder has said neither she nor her campaign
committee violated any ethical laws or codes, but she would return
the money.

Evans acknowledged that the Crowder case helped provide the
impetus for the legislation he and Kay have introduced.

"It was a dramatic example," Evans said.  "But I have been a
practicing attorney for many years, and I have been aware of
people always being concerned about this issue.  I've had people
ask me do I have a connection to a judge- That should not be a
question in our judicial system.

"There's a perception that you have to know somebody to get
justice, and that's not what our law courts should be about."

House Bill 4098 would require the Illinois Supreme Court to adopt
rules requiring attorneys to disclose to the judge and any party
to the lawsuit any campaign contributions made to that judge by
the attorney or the attorney's law firm.  If the contributions
exceed $500 and were given within the past five years, the judge
must recuse himself or herself from the case upon the motion of a
non-contributing party to the lawsuit.

Evans said the bill was "crafted with care, because when you start
talking about campaign contributions, you have to be aware of free
speech issues.

"We think we drafted it to avoid constitutional questions and use
existing civic procedure rules," he said.

"The question of fairness in our court system continues to be a
concern in Madison and St.  Clair counties, especially when judges
receive thousands of dollars from the very same lawyers appearing
before them," Kay said.  "Whether the judge was influenced by
those campaign contributions or not, it gives the appearance of
'Justice for Sale' and is perceived as a conflict of interest.

"This reform legislation will remove the concern that campaign
donations influence the judicial process," he said.

Evans said the legislation is designed to give people greater
confidence in the state's judicial system, noting that most
parties in court cases don't have alternatives to the judges
assigned to their cases.

"We already have existing rules that will allow an attorney to ask
for new judge, a change of venue," he said.  "This utilizes the
existing procedure and provides another basis for when that can be

"Madison and St.  Clair counties were jointly ranked as the
nation's fifth-worst 'Judicial Hellhole' after a four-year absence
from the rankings, according to the latest annual rankings
released recently by the American Tort Reform Foundation," said
Travis Akin, executive director of Illinois Lawsuit Abuse Watch.
"ATRF defines a 'Judicial Hellhole' as 'a place where judges
systematically apply laws and court procedures in an unfair and
unbalanced manner.'

"The concerns with attorneys contributing large donations to a
particular judge are consistent with the many reasons why Madison
and St.  Clair counties made it back on the 'Hellholes' list,"
Akin said.  "We simply cannot have judges, regardless of their
intentions, handing out valuable, future trial slots while at the
same time accepting donations from those same firms."

"It is unfortunate that the judicial system in Illinois has
developed such a tainted reputation for real or imagined conflicts
of interest that legislation such as this is even contemplated,"
said Ed Murnane, president of the Illinois Civil Justice League,
another group that supports tort reform efforts.  "But it is, and
Representatives Kay and Evans are commended for proposing a bill
that will prevent outside money - from either side of the
courtroom - from creating an appearance of inappropriate

"It will be interesting and enlightening to observe which
interests support this legislation and which interests oppose it,"
he said.

Asked about HB 4098's chances of passage in this year's session of
the Illinois General Assembly, Evans acknowledged there would be
many competing issues taking up the time of legislators.

"We would like to see it passed, and we will work to see it
passed," he said.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Superfund Designation of Eden Mines Up for Vote
David Hallquist, CEO of Vermont Electric Cooperative and board
president of Lamoille Economic Development Corp., writes:

"The Belvidere Mountain Quarries (Eden Mines) have been an
important part of the Lamoille County landscape since 1899, when
the Lowell Lumber and Asbestos Co. started prospecting and mining
the mountain.  In 1902, New England Asbestos Mining and Milling
also began mining.  In 1936, the Ruberoid Co. took over, which
became the General Aniline and Film Corp. (GAF) in 1967.  The
mines continued to provide employment for local residents until
1975, when GAF ceased operations due to health concerns.  Workers
bought the company under the name of the Vermont Asbestos Group
(VAG) and continued to operate the mines until 1993."

"We have a unique opportunity to revitalize this important
resource and once again work with the natural resources of
Lamoille County to provide employment.  The Lamoille Economic
Development Corp. (LEDC) has been working with a developer on the
concept of creating energy from wood from the local forests.
Through a process called pyrolysis, bio-mass can be converted to a
syn-gas, which then can be converted to electrical energy and
liquid fuel.  The Eden Mine site is ideally located for the
project.  There is a sub-transmission line that is already in
place, and the location is centrally located in the forests of
northern Vermont.  This central location helps reduce the cost of
transporting the wood needed.  The use of wood as an energy source
provides financial security for those who enjoy working in the

"The key to enabling this to happen is cleaning up the mines.  In
order to clean up the mines, the mines will need to be designated
a Superfund site by the EPA.  A Superfund designation is required
before we can start the process of budgeting and obtaining federal
funds to make the cleanup a reality.  While this question has
created some stress with the local communities in the past, LEDC
wants to make sure the issue is discussed and considered
thoroughly before this opportunity is lost.  One reason residents
have been opposed to this designation as some believe that their
real-estate values will degrade as a result of this designation.
The reality is, if there is negative effect on land value, it
already has happened.  It is pretty tough to hide those mines.

Cleaning the mines up will take a long time, probably about 10
years.  However, at the end of that time frame, this location will
be ready, and the markets will be ready, for local bio-mass to
become an important part of our energy picture."

LEDC has asked the towns of Eden and Lowell to put this question
to the voters during the March town meetings.

LEDC will be hosting informational meetings in Eden on Feb. 22,
and in Lowell on Feb. 23.  Hallquist adds, "We hope to see as many
local residents as possible to ensure that everyone makes a fully
informed decision when they cast their vote."

ASBESTOS UPDATE: ExxonMobil, Sequa Corp, et al. Face Lawsuit
Kelly Holleran of The Southeast Texas Record reports that the
daughter of a recently deceased man claims her father died from
mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos fibers throughout his

Claudia Harper filed a lawsuit Jan. 18 in Jefferson County
District Court against Sabine Towing and Transportation Co.,
Chromally American, Sequa Corp., Kirby Corp., Kirby Inland Marine
and ExxonMobil Corp.

In her complaint, Harper alleges her father, James Wesley Clark
Jr., worked as a seaman for Sabine from 1942 until 1973.  During
his employment, Clark was exposed to asbestos, according to the

Clark developed mesothelioma, incurred medical costs and
experienced physical pain and suffering, mental anguish, emotional
distress and physical impairment before his death.

Due to her father's death, Harper claims she incurred burial costs
and lost his household services and his love and support, the suit

She blames the defendants for contributing to her father's death,
saying they negligently designed vessels with unsafe materials
containing asbestos, failed to design the vessels in such a way so
as to protect Clark from exposure to asbestos, failed to design
the vessels with proper warnings and failed to warn Clark of the
dangers of asbestos exposure.

Harper seeks a judgment within the jurisdictional limits of
Jefferson County District Court, plus post-judgment interest at
the legal rate, costs and other relief the court deems just.

Jerry Easley and Bristol Baxley -- bristolbaxley@sbcglobal.net --
of Rome, Arata and Baxley -- contact@bristolbaxleylaw.com -- in
Pearland and Andrew McEnaney -- AMcEnaney@hkllp.com -- and Matthew
Hull -- MHull@hkllp.com  -- of Hissey and Kientz in Austin will be
representing her.

Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th District Court, has been assigned to
the case.  Case No.  B191-671

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Razed Banning Craftsman-Style Home Decontaminated
Guy McCarthy of the Banning-Beaumont Patch reports that asbestos
removal at a 1920s Craftsman-style home that burned in October
2011 on West Ramsey Street in Banning started Tuesday, Jan. 31, as
announced by Banning City Manager Andy Takata the week before.

Removal of the hazardous material will be finished by Feb. 2, and
demolition of the gutted structure is hoped to be completed by the
end of February, Takata told the Banning city council.

The home was built in 1925, owner Ann Thompson told Banning-
Beaumont Patch in October.  She said she bought it about nine
years ago but did not live there because she had difficulty
meeting city code regulations.

"It was a Craftsman," Thompson said, referring to the American
architectural style that began around the end of the 19th century
and remained popular into the 1930s.

The fire was reported at 12:31 a.m. on Oct. 17 at 4th Street and
Ramsey and eight engine companies responded, according to Cal

Flames tore through the woodframe home's roof in places, and the
structure was reported "completely destroyed" at 1:33 a.m., a Cal
Fire spokeswoman said.

The cause of the fire that ripped through the vacant home was
being investigated by the Cal Fire Prevention Bureau.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Environmental Issues Delay Old Fire Station Sale
Trevor Jones of The Berkshire Eagle reports that a sales agreement
for the former fire station could be signed in the coming weeks,
nearly a year after the winning bid was announced.

But with lingering questions about the associated liability and
long-term viability of the 113-year-old structure, the town and
the winning bidder, 20 Castle Street, LLC, are looking for
assurances that won't be settled until the deal's closing.

"We're very close," said Sean Stanton, chairman of the Select

20 Castle Street, which bid $50,000 for the building, intends to
refurbish the structure primarily for vocational training programs
and career counseling.   A cafe and museum also are expected to be

"I would expect within the next couple weeks that we should be
ready to sign a contract," said Ed McCormick of 20 Castle Street.

The issue will be discussed again at the board's Feb. 13 meeting.

Both sides are looking to have studies done on the building,
though neither study is expected to be completed before the
purchase and sales agreement is signed.

An 1998 report identified a number of asbestos-contaminated
materials throughout the building.  An updated asbestos survey
needs to be done, according to Stanton, for the sale to move

"It's just important to get this done so we have a current
understanding of the risk involved with the project from both the
town's and the buyer's perspective," said Stanton.

The existing report, Stanton argues, was conducted to reflect the
needs of the fire department and it's possible a smaller asbestos
cleanup would be needed to meet 20 Castle Street's plans.

Whatever that cleanup cost, however, the lion's share will fall to
the town.

"It's our building," said Stanton.  "We have a great opportunity
for someone to take on the renovation and revitalization of that
building and we're not going to be able to do it without
committing to making sure they can do it safely."

20 Castle Street, meanwhile, wants an analysis of the building's
bricks to ensure they haven't been overly damaged by weather and
time.  In its original proposal to the town, 20 Castle Street said
it wanted to be able to back out of the deal if results of a brick
test showed the project to be unfeasible.

"There's a lot of unknowns, so I think both sides are trying to
protect [against] the down side," said McCormick.

20 Castle Street was announced as the winning bidder last
February, though serious negotiations didn't get underway until
the fall.  Since that time, the two sides have regularly met in
executive session to discuss the contract.

"At some point when you're dealing with municipal boards, they've
got a lot on their plate," said McCormick on why the deal has
taken so long.

McCormick said the town has been cooperative, but there are
numerous issues with a building like this and the process can be
dragged out by Open Meeting Law requirements and the infrequency
of board meetings.

When asked why the updated environmental report hadn't already
been completed, or why it has taken nearly a year to close the
sale, Stanton declined to provide specifics.

"We're looking forward and keeping it positive," said Stanton.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Lab Accepts Samples Via Mail, Results In 24 Hrs
Due to the general prohibition the usage of asbestos was ceased in
1989, however the previously processed asbestos still can be found
in many places.  Therefore, exposure to asbestos can still occur
at any time.

A recent test, conducted by Western Analytical Laboratory, Inc.
(12734 Branford Street, Unit #19 Arleta, CA 91331), accredited by
the National Institute of Standards and Technology # 200037, on
three samples coming from a house in San Diego County built in
1976, shows Chrysotile (white asbestos) contents.

In two out of three samples, white asbestos was present. < 1% in
the drywall in joint compound, 3-4% in the acoustic ceiling spay;
in the insulation sample there was no asbestos detected.

Asbestos is a collective term naming six minerals, which are
exceptionally heat resistant and have been used in the building
industry.  Inhaled asbestos fibers can cause serious damage to
health -- including asbestosis, lung cancer and malignant pleural
tumors otherwise known as mesothelioma.

The safe level of asbestos exposure is not known. However, it is a
fact that the degree of exposure to asbestos is in direct
proportion with the risk of developing diseases

People who know or even suspect that they have been exposed to
asbestos should immediately consult mesothelioma doctors.

For those who live or work in buildings constructed before the
asbestos was banned it is advisable to consult professionals and
test the building for asbestos. In order to protect yourself and
your family from asbestos exposure it is strongly recommended to
test your house for asbestos before any renovation.  Testing 3
samples will cost around $50, health costs a lot more.

Fully accredited Western Analytical Laboratory is providing
asbestos testing services to customers nationwide at affordable
price.  The lab accepts samples via mail and customers receive the
results in 24 hours.  To learn how to collect safely samples for
asbestos testing, please visit http://www.asbestostesting.com/

ASBESTOS UPDATE: 600 Grace Claimants Near Settlement
Lynnette Hintze of the Daily Inter Lake reports that more than
200 people with asbestos disease have received their portion of a
$43 million state settlement to compensate those sickened by
asbestos exposure from the former W.R. Grace & Co. vermiculite
mine at Libby.

Attorneys for the 1,128 asbestos victims named in the settlement
are close to reaching a resolution on another 600 claimants, but
for hundreds of claimants it's a waiting game prolonged by the
process of getting a release from Medicare liens.

The District Court in Helena in September 2011 approved the state
settlement negotiated by the McGarvey, Heberling, Sullivan &
McGarvey law firm in Kalispell and the Lewis, Slovak, Kovacich &
Marr law firm in Great Falls.

Jon Heberling, a Kalispell attorney and joint counsel for Libby
claimants, said in a statement Friday that many asbestos disease
patients are still waiting for release of Medicare liens so they
can receive their settlement payments.

In cases where the Grace Libby Medical Plan or private insurance
paid for medical expenses, there is no Medicare lien, Heberling

"Where Medicare has paid, it has a right by statute to recoup what
it paid from settlements obtained by Libby asbestos disease
patients," he said.  "Since September when the state of Montana
settlement was approved by the court, counsel for the Libby
asbestos disease patients have worked closely with Medicare
officials to fast track release of the Medicare liens."

The offices of both Sen. Max Baucus and Sen. Jon Tester have been
helpful in moving the process along, Heberling noted.

The remaining claimants likely will be evaluated individually.
Medicare has agreed to an expedited review of these individuals
and has assigned a special projects administrator, Heberling said.

In documents sent to asbestos patients as the settlement was
coming to fruition, Heberling cited three key factors that brought
about the settlement.

First, the Herb Orr et al versus state of Montana lawsuit filed in
2001 set the stage.  It involved seven miners and one wife of a
miner, all with asbestos disease.  The state filed a motion to
dismiss the case, claiming that the state had no duty to workers
or their families under the Industrial Hygiene Act.  The District
Court in Helena ruled in favor of the state and dismissed the
case, but the McGarvey law firm appealed the decision to the
Montana Supreme Court, and ultimately the high court ruled in the
victims' favor in December 2004.

A second factor was the U.S. Bankruptcy Court injunction.  In
2005, lawyers for the state and W.R. Grace petitioned the court
for an injunction stopping all proceedings against the state of
Montana. The Bankruptcy Court granted the injunction, and the case
went through two levels of appeal.  What eventually culminated was
a memorandum of understanding entered in 2009 and the District
Court approval of the $43 million settlement on Sept. 8.

A third impetus for the settlement, Heberling said, was Dr. Alan
Whitehouse's general expert report.  Whitehouse is a pulmonary
specialist who treated Libby asbestos victims for years and
documented the unique nature of Libby asbestos exposure.

"We believe that a factor in the state's willingness to settle was
that we had assembled so much medical proof that the state was
unlikely to win by calling doctors to dispute the findings of the
doctors at the Center for Asbestos Related Disease (CARD) clinic
in Libby," Heberling wrote to clients.

Law firms involved in the negotiations will get about $16 million
of the $43 million settlement to cover attorney fees.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Contaminants Disrupt Stage Play at C-SD School
Steven Fisher at WBOC 16 reports that while repairing the stage
lighting at Cambridge-South Dorchester High School, workers made
the discovery of the cancer causing material asbestos.

The wires connected to old light fixtures contained the dangerous
material.  "It scared me for a while but we met with
representatives from the board and they have promised to do it
fast so that it won't bother the play," said Donna James.  James
is the theatre teacher at South Dorchester H.S. and is in the
middle of preparing for a play that will open in March.

The discovery of asbestos came at a crucial time for those
practicing for the school play.  "We can't move them so if it's
not done then we will have a major lighting problem," said James.
The lights can be turned on, but they are not supposed to be
moved.  The school board says the lights only become hazardous if
the wire insulation is disturbed.  "One solution is to simply
remove the wiring, another solution is to replace the wiring and
the accompanied fixtures," said Dr. Henry Wagner.

Superintendent Wagner made sure all parents were made aware of the
asbestos.  Each student was sent home with a letter stating that
there was asbestos but there is no reason to worry.  The school
board is hoping to remove the asbestos as soon as they can.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Appeal on $15.2MM Jury Verdict v. Conoco Starts
Tim Povtak of The Mesothelioma Center reports that Conoco Phillips
Corp., knowing a lengthy list of plaintiffs from the oil drilling
industry are awaiting, began oral arguments before the Mississippi
State Supreme Court in its appeal of the $15.2 million jury
verdict involving asbestos exposure.

The case, which went to trial in 2010 and was brought by an
lifelong oil field worker, revolved around Drilling Mud, which was
used to cool drill bits and flush debris from well holes.

It was just the latest example of how dangerous oil industry
occupation really was, despite assurances that safety precautions
had been taken.

Troy Lofton, now 71 and whose parents were Mississippi
sharecroppers, developed asbestosis, a respiratory disease caused
by his lengthy exposure to asbestos in the oil drilling industry.

Part of Lofton's job involved opening 50-pound bags of Flosal, an
asbestos-additive that was mixed into the mud being used in oil
and gas drilling.  The asbestos was useful because of its heat
resistance and bonding qualities that once made it so popular.

The product was sold by CP Chem, a subsidiary of Phillips 66,
which later merged into Conoco Phillips Corp.  The original case
against Conoco Phillips was one of the few that actually went to

Lofton said he first developed asbestosis in 2004.  He began
working in the oil industry in 1964, coinciding with the beginning
of asbestos mud additives for drilling.

Lofton claimed CP Chem knowingly was shipping a dangerous product
to the drilling industry without the proper warnings.  He also
said at the trial that the asbestosis required him to be on oxygen
24 hours a day.

Although many applications of asbestos became prohibited in the
early 1970s under the Toxic Substances Control Act, it was being
used for drilling mud as late at 1989 by the oil industry.  An
exposure to asbestos fibers also can cause mesothelioma, a cancer
with a latency period of up to 50 years.

Flosal and Visbestos were the two most popular mud additives that
were used in the oil and gas industry, particularly in states like
in Texas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Louisiana and New Mexico.

Oil-drilling industry occupations that have been particularly hard
hit by asbestos exposure include mud engineers, drillers, shaker
hands, and mud mixers.  Workers in the oil refineries business
also have sustained considerable asbestos exposure.

Lofton testified at the trial with tubes in his nose and early and
holding a portable oxygen bottle.  Among the evidence at the trial
was documentation that the company had discussed the potential
dangers of the mud additives, and the costs of personal injury
lawsuits that it anticipated.

It took the jury just four hours of deliberating before it
returned to award Lofton $200,000 in economic damages and $15
million for pain and suffering and emotional distress.

This appeal comes shortly after a $322 million verdict against
Union Carbide Corp. and Chevron Phillips Chemical -- involving
another victim of oil-drilling mud -- was overturned by an appeals
court.  The case was overturned, though, because of a conflict-of-
interest regarding Circuit Judge Eddie Bowen.

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Tenant Leaders Hit New Chelsea Hotel Owner Again
Reuven Blau of The New York Daily News reports that the new owner
of the historic Chelsea Hotel has another fight on his hands --
over asbestos.

The owner, Joseph Chetrit, has been ordered to clear out asbestos
from the landmark's shaft space, say tenant leaders who cite signs
in the building.

"Residents are very angry.  Asbestos is a deadly substance," said
Zoe Pappas, president of the Chelsea Hotel Tenant Association.

The asbestos clash is the latest battle at the hotel.

Last December, a group of 34 permanent tenants sued the new owner,
citing dangerous dust and airborne debris created by the extensive
repairs at 222 W. 23rd St.

A Housing Court judge ruled in their favor and ordered the ongoing
demolition to comply with strict building-code regulations.

The tenant group has also attacked Chetrit's attempt to evict
long-term residents.

Past celebrities who stayed in the hotel include Bob Dylan, Dylan
Thomas, Janis Joplin and Leonard Cohen.

Chetrit did not immediately respond to emails and a call seeking

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Jury Awards Half of $443,000 Among Franklins
David Yates of The Southeast Texas Record report that on Jan. 26,
Jefferson County jurors divided up $443,000 in asbestos lawsuit
settlement proceeds among divided families.

Court records state that following the death of her husband Claude
Franklin, Mary Ann Franklin joined an ongoing class-action suit
first filed in Jefferson County District Court on June 4, 1998,
against dozens of oil and chemical companies.

Class members allege defendant companies such as Mobil Oil and
DuPont negligently and maliciously exposed workers to asbestos
when the companies knew asbestos dust and fibers created health

On Jan. 24 a trial between plaintiffs Mary Ann Franklin, Chelsea
Franklin, Carolyn Harris and Pamela Terry was held.

Jurors were tasked to decide how past and future settlement
proceeds would be divided between the plaintiffs, court papers

According to the court's charge to the jury, 5% was awarded to the
estate of Claude Franklin; Mary Franklin received 5% for her loss
of consortium plus an additional 15% as a wrongful death

Chelsea Franklin, Harris and Terry all received 25%.

The ongoing lawsuit has already generated $443,000 in settlements,
court records show.

The suit stems from the death of Claude Franklin, who died of
cancer on May 20, 1999.  Mary Ann Franklin alleges her husband's
death was a direct result of his asbestos exposure.

Several months ago, two women claiming to be Claude Franklin's
daughters, Harris and Terry, intervened in the case, asserting
they are entitled to the suit's settlement proceeds.

A day before the trial, a hearing on the paternity matter was held
on Jan. 23 in Judge Donald Floyd's 172nd District Court.

During the hearing, Harris testified that she was in Claude
Franklin's will and identified as his daughter.

Harris also said she and Terry had a DNA test performed which
proved they shared a biological parent.

Plaintiff's attorney Reginald McKamie -- mckamie@mckamie.com --
had argued the DNA test did not name Claude Franklin as the
father, and only proved the two interveners are sisters.

Judge Floyd found in favor of the interveners, giving the green
light for the case to be heard before the Jefferson County jury.

Houston attorney Jason Payne -- info@thepaynefirm.com  --
represents the interveners.  Case No. E159-183-s

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Senate Candidate Carped for Helping Insurance Co.
Holly Robichaud of The Boston Herald reports that Elizabeth Warren
(D-Mass.), U.S. Senate candidate and Lioness of Consumer
Protection, may have helped Travelers Insurance cheat asbestos
victims out of compensation.  Robichaud writes:

"One of the Harvard professor's many well-compensated part-time
gigs included consulting for Travelers Insurance.  I know that it
is hard to believe that on one hand, Democrats would be bashing an
industry, and on the other hand they are making money from it. To
be a Democrat is to be a hypocrite."

"What did Lizzy do to earn $44,000 in compensation from the
insurance company? She made it harder for claimants to collect.
Warren helped establish the bankruptcy strategy for companies to
avoid crushing lawsuits.  In short, go bankrupt to avoid paying

Nate Nelson of The United Liberty reports that Ms. Warren, in
court briefings, supported the effort to protect Travelers
Insurance from future lawsuits after agreeing to a $500 million
settlement with asbestos plaintiffs.

This news should be greeted with a healthy dose of skepticism
until more information becomes available.  For example, it would
be helpful to know in precisely what capacity Warren worked for
Travelers.  Robichaud's rhetoric is beyond partisan even for an
op-ed writer and at one point she refers to Brown's 2010 opponent
Martha Coakley as Marsha.  So our readers should take these
accusations with a grain of salt until we see some less biased

If true, though, nobody should be particularly surprised.  The
congressional culture of corruption and hypocrisy is nothing new.
Former Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Congressman Barney Frank
(D-Mass.) were the architects of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform
and Consumer Protection Act, insisting that Americans needed
protection from those big, nasty banks.  Yet Dodd was implicated
in the Countrywide VIP mortgage scandal and Frank faced
allegations of his own regarding his role in the failure of Fannie
Mae and Freddie Mac.  Now Dodd is busy working for the Motion
Picture Association of America (MPAA) to undermine our First
Amendment rights and destroy the free internet.  So if Warren
really is the epic hypocrite that Robichaud makes her out to be,
she should fit right in on Capitol Hill if she's able to unseat
Brown in November."

ASBESTOS UPDATE: Kmart Plan Discharge Vacated Over Scant Record
The Court of Appeals of California, Second District, Division
Five, held that the April 22, 2003 approval of Kmart Corp.'s
reorganization plan cannot discharge asbestos plaintiffs' tort
claims.  The appellate court thus reversed a trial court's
demurrer dismissal, which is premised on the conclusion the
reorganization plan is enforceable against the plaintiffs.

"We emphasize the narrow nature of our ruling," the state appeals
court said.  "We merely hold [Kmart] has failed to demonstrate, at
the demurrer stage, that the April 22, 2003 approval of the
reorganization plan bars all of the first amended complaint's
claims.  And we reach our decision based on the limited record of
bankruptcy proceedings provided by [Kmart]."

Martin Flores was exposed to asbestos in 1989 while performing
construction work in a store operated by Kmart Corporation. On
some unspecified date, Mr. Flores sustained malignant
mesothelioma. On June 19, 2008, Mr. Flores died of malignant
mesothelioma. His wife, Rachel Flores, and their two children,
Adrian and Christian, filed a wrongful death action on Dec. 17,
2008.  The first amended complaint does not allege when Mr. Flores
became aware he was ill. There is no evidence Mr. Flores' identity
or illness was reasonably ascertainable by defendant prior to the
approval of Kmart's reorganization plan.

Kmart and 37 affiliates filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy petitions in
January 2002.  It won confirmation of a joint reorganization plan
in April 2003.  The Confirmation Order discharged all known and
unknown claims against Kmart.

Kmart contends the Confirmation Order approving the reorganization
plan and discharge order bars Mr. Flores' family from recovering
damages resulting from his alleged asbestos exposure. The parties
posit two controlling issues. First, defendant argues that the
unliquidated, contingent or unmatured damage claims were
discharged by the April 22, 2003 approval of the reorganization
plan and discharge order. Second, plaintiffs argue the discharge
order violates their Fourteenth Amendment due process rights as
there is no evidence they received notice of the potential
approval of the reorganization plan.

The appellate case is, RACHEL FLORES et al., Plaintiffs and
Appellants, v. KMART CORPORATION, Defendant and Respondent, No.
B229109 (Calif. App. Ct.).  A copy of the Jan. 25, 2012 ruling is
available at http://is.gd/Y8TKIIfrom Leagle.com.

The Arkin Law Firm, Sharon J. Arkin; Clapper, Patti, Schweizer &
Mason, Jack K. Clapper, Steven J. Patti, Christine A. Renken;
Farrise Firm and Simona A. Farrise argue for the Plaintiffs and

Pond North, Frank D. Pond, Previn A. Wick and Anosheh Azarmsa
argue for Kmart.

                           About Kmart

Retailer Kmart Corporation and 37 of its U.S. subsidiaries filed
voluntary Chapter 11 petitions (Bankr. N.D. Ill. Lead Case No.
02-02474) on Jan. 22, 2002.  Kmart emerged from chapter 11
protection on May 6, 2003, pursuant to the terms of an Amended
Joint Plan of Reorganization.  John Wm. "Jack" Butler, Jr., Esq.,
at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, LLP, represented the
retailer in its restructuring efforts.  The Company's balance
sheet showed $16,287,000,000 in assets and $10,348,000,000 in
debts when it sought chapter 11 protection.  Kmart bought Sears,
Roebuck & Co., for $11 billion to create the third-largest U.S.
retailer, behind Wal-Mart and Target, and generate $55 billion in
annual revenues.  Kmart completed its merger with Sears on
March 24, 2005.


S U B S C R I P T I O N   I N F O R M A T I O N

Class Action Reporter is a daily newsletter, co-published by
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Copyright 2012.  All rights reserved.  ISSN 1525-2272.

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