A sharply divided U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruling shielding a nondebtor in bankruptcy proceedings from asbestos lawsuits underscores the wider and growing divide among judges across the country on the bounds of Chapter 11 protection and corporations’ use of the “Texas two-step” to address mass tort litigation.
Francis J. Lawall and Brenden S. Dahrouge
Chapter 11 cases involving mass tort and complex personal injury claims often require the resolution of novel legal issues that stretch the bounds of existing precedent. As these cases evolve, they can also impact claims against other debtors unrelated to the case at hand through court-approved injunctions, releases or settlements.
By enabling defendants to shield themselves from mass tort liability, the “Texas Two-Step” is a new obstacle for plaintiffs pursuing mass tort cases against manufacturers of dangerous products.
Janice G. Inman
OnJune 19, the U.S. Supreme Court upended years of jurisprudence to hand corporations a gift: a far more stringent definition of specific jurisdiction that will force plaintiffs to bring suit in multiple state courts rather than join their claims to those in far-flung jurisdictions.
Mass torts are a strong way for trial lawyers to check Big Pharma's unfettered safety violations. However, it is not a practice area without dangers; and like so many other dangers, they are often hidden.