Bancroft PLLC’s Paul Clement extended his recent hot streak on Tuesday, adding to a series of rapid-fire reversals in cases involving Hobby Lobby, Aereo and the Chinese heavy equipment giant Sany Group.
The latest appellate victory comes courtesy of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which sided with Clement and other lawyers Tuesday in an epic insurance fight over asbestos claims against Berkshire Hathaway’s Johns-Manville Corp. unit. Reversing a lower court’s decision, the Second Circuit ruled that Travelers Indemnity Co. must pay more than $500 million to honor a decade-old settlement related to Manville’s asbestos liability.
The panel rejected a 2012 ruling by U.S. District Judge John Koeltl, who concluded that certain conditions of the 2004 settlement hadn’t been met. Koetl’s decision, in turn, had reversed an earlier ruling by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Burton Lifland that required Travelers to fund the settlement. (For additional details on the fiendishly complex case, which traces back more than 30 years, here’s more from our colleagues at the New York Law Journal.)
Clement argued at the Second Circuit on behalf of settlement counsel for two groups of plaintiffs that pursued claims against Travelers for its role as Manville’s insurer. Those plaintiffs, which stand to receive about 85 percent of the settlement funds, alleged that Travelers conspired to violate state unfair insurance laws and misrepresented Manville’s knowledge of asbestos hazards.
Milberg’s Matthew Gluck and Kent Bronson joined Clement on the briefs. Ronald Barliant of Goldberg Kohn represented another group of plaintiffs whose clients are in line to receive the rest of the settlement proceeds. A group of asbestos personal injury plaintiffs who joined the case as interested parties were represented at oral arguments by Sander Esserman of Stutzman, Bromberg, Esserman & Plifka.
Representing Travelers at the Second Circuit was Simpson Thacher & Bartlett’s Barry Ostrager, who’s been involved in the Manville matter for Travelers in some form or another since 1982. Ostrager wasn’t immediately available to comment on Tuesday, but we predict he’ll shoot for one more reversal in the long-running case.