Create an Account or Login to Existing Account
7-Day Free Trial
HTML Document View
Full title: Response /Debtor's Objection to ACC-FCR Motion for Two-Step Estimation Protocol Hearing scheduled for 10/04/2021 at 9:30 AM at 3-JCW-Charlotte Courtroom10/04/2021 (RE: related document(s) Motion (Other) filed by Creditor Committee The Official Committee of Asbestos Personal Injury Claimants) Filed by Garland S. Cassada on behalf of DBMP LLC. (Cassada, Garland)
Document posted on Sep 23, 2021 in the bankruptcy, 59 pages and 0 tables.
Bankrupt11 Summary (Automatically Generated)
The Legal Liability Method simply assesses directly the factors that matter to the number and value of asbestos claims under state law, including the number of claimants with exposure to a product for which the Debtor is responsible, claimants’ damages, and the other parties who 4 may have contributed to the injury or made payments to the claimant.The Trust (and claimants who will be paid by such a Trust) should thus be intensely interested in the facts about those claims that are relevant to value under state law—including the number of such claims and their exposure profiles.By this Order, the court has concluded (1) to order an estimation proceeding; (2) to estimate the total amount of allowed mesothelioma claims in order to determine plan feasibility; (3) to consider properly supported evidence based upon the “settlement” approach and the “legal liability” approach; (4) not to require filing of claims or establish a bar date at this time; and (5) to set a hearing for the estimation proceeding in December 2012. In the context of Chapter 11 asbestos cases, many courts have admitted evidence of the debtor’s settlement history of resolving past claims for the purpose of estimating liability for unresolved pending and future claims.In fact, courts in prior cases have analyzed the 11 merits of claims at estimation."
List of Tables
Document ContentsUNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA CHARLOTTE DIVISION In re Chapter 11 DBMP LLC,1 Case No. 20-30080 (JCW) Debtor. DEBTOR’S OBJECTION TO ACC-FCR MOTION FOR TWO-STEP ESTIMATION PROTOCOL DBMP LLC (“DBMP” or the “Debtor”) objects to The Official Committee of Asbestos Personal Injury Claimants’ and the Future Claimants’ Representative’s Conditional Motion to Establish a Two-Step Protocol for Estimating the Debtor’s Asbestos Liabilities (Dkt. 1031) (the “Motion”). Through the Motion, the Official Committee of Asbestos Personal Injury Claimants (the “ACC”) and the Future Claimants’ Representative (the “FCR”) seek an estimation protocol (the “Protocol”) with an initial estimation (the “First Estimation”) where the parties would be required to adopt the methodology favored by the ACC and the FCR (the “Settlement Method”). The Debtor would be prohibited from presenting its method (the “Legal Liability Method”) until a second estimation (the “Second Estimation”) to be conducted at an undefined future date under the vague condition that the First Estimation “does not prove helpful.” Motion, Ex. A ¶ 3. The Court should deny the Motion because it effectively seeks to have the Court prejudge the estimation of mesothelioma claims against the Debtor, before discovery and before the presentation of evidence. The Legal Liability Method is a well-recognized method for estimating 1 The last four digits of the Debtor’s taxpayer identification number are 8817. The Debtor’s address is 20 Moores Road, Malvern, Pennsylvania 19355. 1
1disputed personal injury claims in a bankruptcy case. It estimates claims directly, based on the factors relevant under state law, whereas the Settlement Method estimates claims indirectly, by assuming past settlements reflect current and future liability. Courts have routinely permitted debtors to pursue and present the Legal Liability Method. No court has ever precluded a debtor from presenting it, and in the only asbestos case where an estimation presenting such a method went to final judgment (Garlock), the court adopted it. The First Estimation would deprive the Court of this potentially viable estimation method, resulting in a biased evidentiary presentation. Furthermore, a procedure with two serial estimations of the same question (the number and amount of current and future mesothelioma claims) has no foundation in the Bankruptcy Code or case law. To the Debtor’s knowledge, no court has ever attempted it. Finally, the Motion would not achieve its promised purpose of avoiding delay, expense, or litigation. The Motion would carry a significant risk of increased delay by requiring two sequential estimations rather than just one (and, the Debtor strongly believes that the Legal Liability Method will provide the most reliable estimate in this case). And although the Motion appears to contemplate that the Debtor would not be permitted to seek discovery from Trusts and from claimants through PIQs in connection with the Settlement Method, see Motion at 2, any fair application of the Settlement Method requires such discovery. Denying it would result in an unreliable estimation and would deny the Debtor due process. In fact, the Settlement Method presents far thornier discovery and litigation issues than the Legal Liability Method. Whereas the Legal Liability Method relies on objective facts concerning the actual claims to be estimated (such as exposure and damages), the Settlement Method opens up the complex issue of whether past settlements accurately reflect current and future liability—including whether past 2
2settlements that would be the foundation of that methodology were tainted by claimants’ failure to disclose material exposure evidence. The Debtor does not propose at this stage to preclude the ACC and the FCR from pursuing the Settlement Method (so long as the Debtor is able to obtain the discovery necessary to meet it). But the ACC and the FCR should not be permitted to bar the Debtor’s case based on assertions of simplicity that simply are not true. Rather than pre-judge estimation before it has even begun, the Court should instead order estimation and adopt a case management order (“CMO”) that will permit all parties to develop and present their estimation cases within a reasonable timeframe. This course will maximize the chances of settlement, as all parties simultaneously learn the strengths and weaknesses of their respective cases—not just the strengths and weaknesses of the Settlement Method. The CMO could even build in the opportunity for settlement discussions and/or formal mediation to facilitate this goal, either before or after discovery, perhaps with an exchange of preliminary expert reports among the parties, which may assist such negotiations and/or mediation. For all these reasons, the Motion should be denied. ARGUMENT I. The First Estimation Proposed By the ACC and FCR Would Deprive the Court of a Reliable and Well-Recognized Method for Estimating Disputed Personal Injury Claims The Motion proceeds from the premise that the Settlement Method is the “standard methodology” and is the “traditional estimation approach used in asbestos bankruptcies.” Motion at 7-8. But in fact, courts have repeatedly permitted debtors to present the Legal Liability Method as a viable alternative to the Settlement Method, and the only court in an asbestos case 3
3that had the opportunity to rule on the competing approaches (in Garlock) accepted the Legal Liability Method and rejected the Settlement Method. A. The Legal Liability Method Is Well-Established The Debtor has sought an estimation of current and future mesothelioma claims against it pursuant to Bankruptcy Code section 502(c) for purposes of formulating and confirming a plan of reorganization. Motion of the Debtor for Estimation of Current and Future Mesothelioma Claims (Dkt. 948) ¶¶ 5, 7, 28, 31. Substantive state law governs the validity and value of personal injury claims in bankruptcy. See Bittner v. Borne Chem. Co., 691 F.2d 134, 135 (3d Cir. 1982) (estimation is “bound by the legal rules which may govern the ultimate value of the claim” so that “when the claim is based on an alleged breach of contract, the court must estimate its worth in accordance with accepted contract law”). Claims that are unenforceable under state law should not receive value, and the value of enforceable claims should be determined under applicable state law. See 11 U.S.C. § 502(b)(1); In re Farley, Inc., 146 B.R. 748, 752-56 (Bankr. N.D. Ill. 1992) (estimating group of personal injury claims pursuant to section 502(c) according to their merit under state tort law, and estimating by determining claimants had “about a one-in-four chance of winning” in any jury trial on key factual issue); In re Garlock Sealing Techs. LLC, 504 B.R. 71, 94 (Bankr. W.D.N.C. 2014) (estimation must aim to determine the debtor’s “liability to claimants” under state law, not “simply its claims resolution history”—and that resolution history is useful “only if it reliably reflects the debtor’s liability”) (emphasis in original). The Legal Liability Method simply assesses directly the factors that matter to the number and value of asbestos claims under state law, including the number of claimants with exposure to a product for which the Debtor is responsible, claimants’ damages, and the other parties who 4
4may have contributed to the injury or made payments to the claimant. See Garlock, 504 B.R. at 95-96 (summarizing method). Courts routinely and without controversy estimate non-asbestos personal injury claims using similar direct methods. See In re Continental Airlines Corp., 64 B.R. 858 (Bankr. S.D. Tex. 1986) (estimating claims by determining likelihood of success under applicable state law); In re Farley, Inc., 146 B.R. at 753-56 (estimating personal injury claims by determining claimants’ likelihood of success on key disputed issue under Illinois law); In re Corey, 892 F.2d 829, 834 (9th Cir. 1989) (upholding estimation at zero of “highly speculative” tort claims for emotional distress); In re Aquaslide ‘N’ Dive Corp., 85 B.R. 545, 548-49 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. 1987) (upholding estimation of personal injury claim at zero based on failure in key element of claimant’s proof). In mass tort bankruptcy cases, courts also have repeatedly recognized that debtors have the right to present the Legal Liability Method, with no court (to the Debtor’s knowledge) accepting a request to limit the evidence presented at estimation. See, e.g., In re USG Corp., 290 B.R. 223, 223-27 (Bankr. Del. 2003) (holding that at the estimation trial, “debtors will be permitted to present their defenses”); In re G-I Holdings, Inc., 323 B.R. 583, 623 (Bankr. D.N.J. 2005) (holding that the debtor “should be afforded an opportunity to review the claims against the estate and object to those claims that it believes are illegitimate or dispensable as a matter of law”); Grace’s Memorandum in Opposition to Claimants’ Motions to Exclude Expert Testimony at 32-42, In re W.R. Grace & Co., et al., No. 01-1139 (Bankr. D. Del. Dec. 21, 2007) (Dkt. 17695) (excerpts attached as Ex. A) (discussing debtor’s Legal Liability Method developed with assistance of more than 100,000 PIQs); Menard-Sanford v. Mabey (In re A.H. Robins Co.), 880 5
5F.2d 694, 699 (4th Cir. 1989) (upholding estimation of intrauterine device personal injury claims using Legal Liability Method that relied on questionnaires and facts about merits of claims).2 The asbestos cases summarized above settled before the courts rendered estimates. But in Garlock, the court heard evidence with respect to both estimation methods, after holding early in the case “that the two approaches to estimation are not matters of law, but rather matters of evidence” and that the court would “hear such evidence as is appropriate relating to each approach and will make its decision based upon which is the more persuasive.” Order for Estimation of Mesothelioma Claims ¶ 19, In re Garlock Sealing Techs., LLC, No. 10-31607 (Bankr. W.D.N.C. Apr. 13, 2012) (Dkt. 2102) (attached as Ex. B). After the Garlock estimation trial, the court rejected the Settlement Method estimate advocated by the ACC/FCR in that case (of more than $1 billion) and accepted the debtor’s Legal Liability Method estimate (amounting to $125 million). Garlock, 504 B.R. at 95. Most recently, the Bestwall ACC and FCR likewise sought to limit the parties to using the Settlement Method, and foreclose use of the Legal Liability Method. The court held there was “no basis for the Court” to grant the motion “or make any determination about the validity or merit of either the debtor’s legal liability methodology or the ACC’s settlement methodology at this point.” 3/4/21 H’rg Tr. at 16, In re Bestwall LLC, No. 17-31795 (Bankr. W.D.N.C.) (excerpts attached as Ex. C). The court elaborated that “no court, to my knowledge, has ruled at this early stage of estimation that it would be appropriate to prevent one side or the other from 2 The courts in USG and G-I Holdings also rejected the efforts of claimant representatives to preclude the debtors from obtaining discovery of core importance to their estimation methods. See In re G-I Holdings, Inc., 2006 WL 2403531, at *23 (Bankr. D.N.J. Aug. 12, 2006) (holding that “[t]he Court believes that each party is entitled to make its case”); id. at *23 n.38 (quoting Transcript of Hearing in In re USG Corp., No. 01-2094 (D. Del. Sept. 19, 2005)) (“I’ve already told you that if the debtor is going to proceed with an estimation theory, they’re going to be allowed to get evidence that they feel is necessary to make their claim in this case. I’m not going to cut them off at the pass, which is what you want to do. You want me to look at the historical information.”). 6
6presenting their theory for estimating a debtor’s asbestos liability in the case,” and agreed with the Garlock court’s reasoning in this regard. Id. at 16-17.3 B. The Protocol Would Preclude Use of the Legal Liability Method Without Authority in the Bankruptcy Code or Cases, and Without Evidence Showing the Settlement Method Is Superior The ACC/FCR Motion simply ignores the extensive history of courts entertaining the Legal Liability Method. Instead, it seeks to require all parties to use a method that, contrary to universal practice in other litigation, uses settlements as proxies for liability. See Fed. R. Evid. 408 (excluding use of settlements to “prove or disprove the validity or amount of a disputed claim”); Advisory Committee Notes, Fed. R. Evid. 408 (explaining that settlements or offers to settle are “irrelevant” to liability “since the offer may be motivated by a desire for peace rather than from any concession of weakness of position.”). The Motion cites no authority in the Bankruptcy Code for sequential estimations using different methods, nor a single case where a court has pursued such an approach. The cases the Motion cites did not hold that the Legal Liability Method was inadmissible. Those courts had no occasion to make such a finding because the parties only presented Settlement Method approaches. See In re Armstrong World Indus., Inc., 348 B.R. 111, 134 (D. Del. 2006); In re Federal-Mogul Global, Inc., 330 B.R. 133, 144-45 (D. Del. 2005); In re Eagle-Picher Indus., 3 The Bestwall court also found persuasive that in the Specialty Products case, the court rejected a similar effort by the ACC to restrict the debtor’s methodology or present certain kinds of medical or science evidence, finding that any such limitation was premature “until [the debtor’s] methodology is actually known, and stated in a report, and then you can challenge the specifics of what was done, as opposed to a hypothetical of what may be done.” 2/14/11 H’rg Tr. at 31-32, In re Specialty Prods. Holding Corp., et al., No. 10-11780 (Bankr. D. Del.) (Dkt. 899) (excerpt attached as Ex. D); see also 7/16/12 H’rg Tr. at 37-38, In re Specialty Prods. Holding Corp., et al., No. 10-11780 (Bankr. D. Del.) (excerpt attached as Ex. E) (refusing to preclude introduction of medical and science evidence). The ACC in that case withdrew both motions. See Order Withdrawing Motion of the Official Committee of Asbestos Personal Injury Claimants to Establish Estimation Methodology Without Prejudice, In re Specialty Prods. Holding Corp., et al., No. 10-11780 (Bankr. D. Del. March 17, 2011) (Dkt. 1056); Order Withdrawing Without Prejudice the Official Committee of Asbestos Personal Injury Claimants’ Motion to Limit the Use of Medical Science Testimony in Estimation Proceedings, In re Specialty Prods. Holding Corp., et al., No. 10-11780 (Bankr. D. Del. July 19, 2012) (Dkt. 2708). 7
7Inc., 189 B.R. 681, 690 (Bankr. S.D. Ohio 1995). In some of them the debtor appears not to have disputed liability. Armstrong, 348 B.R. at 125; Federal-Mogul, 330 B.R. at 135 n.2.4 The Motion’s only authority for the proposition that the Settlement Method is “traditional” dates from 2005 (before a number of the Legal Liability Method cases had occurred, including Garlock). And in fact, a portion of that source not quoted in the Motion recognizes that settlements cannot be blindly equated with liability: If . . . current and future claims are significantly different from prebankruptcy claims or if the amount the debtor previously paid to settle claims does not accurately reflect their actual value, then an estimate of the debtor’s present and future tort liability should not be based exclusively on those historical values. A debtor or the tort claimants’ committee should have the opportunity prior to a judicial estimation to establish the invalidity of past settlement values as a basis for valuing present and future claims. S. ELIZABETH GIBSON, JUDICIAL MANAGEMENT OF MASS TORT BANKRUPTCY CASES, at 97 (Fed. Jud. Ctr. 2005). Finally, the Motion offers no evidence that DBMP’s settlements represent its liability—the Motion simply asserts it, incorrectly. Motion at 7-8. The ACC and the FCR present no declarations from their experts. The only evidence offered on this topic to date is in Dr. Bates’s declaration, where he says, “It is a well-established fact in the Law and Economics literature that the amount that a defendant pays and a plaintiff accepts to settle a lawsuit is not a direct measure of the defendant’s liability.” Declaration of Charles E. Bates, PhD ¶ 6 (Exhibit D to Estimation Motion).5 There is currently no basis to conclude that the Settlement Method will be superior to 4 The Motion states, without citation, that “claims in bankruptcy must be given the value they would have in the tort system,” Motion at 7, as if estimation must seek to replicate settlement values from past cases. To the contrary, it is state law, not “the tort system,” that governs the validity and value of claims in bankruptcy—as all the cases cited by the ACC and the FCR recognized. See, e.g., In re Federal-Mogul Global, Inc., 330 B.R. 133, 155 (D. Del. 2005) (“[T]he estimating court is bound by the legal rules which may govern the ultimate value of the claim.”). 5 The Motion states that Bates White has utilized historical settlement values “in the past . . . [f]or financial reporting purposes” and claims that Bates White “undoubtedly is in a position to estimate the Debtor’s asbestos-related liabilities based on CertainTeed’s historical settlement values.” But Dr. Bates’ testimony, which the Motion cites, distinguishes financial forecasting from the estimation of legal liability, which requires additional information. See 8
8the Legal Liability Method in rendering an estimate of the Debtor’s liability for mesothelioma claims. The Protocol would thus in a very real sense prejudge the estimation. It would prefer one approach—the Settlement Method—before any evidence has been developed or presented. It would deprive the parties and the Court at the outset of evidence and argument supporting a Legal Liability Method that the Debtor believes is superior to the Settlement Method. II. Bifurcating the Estimation Process Will Increase Delay, Expense, and Litigation and Will Not Assist the Parties in Resolving This Case The ACC and the FCR justify their Estimation Protocol by arguing that a First Estimation restricted to the Settlement Method would be “of limited duration and avoid the time-consuming and costly discovery implicated by the Estimation Motion.” Motion at 2. In fact, if conducted fairly, it would do nothing of the kind. It would front-load a relatively complex estimation proceeding while carrying the admitted prospect of a second estimation down the road. It would disserve judicial economy and would undermine the expeditious resolution of this case. A. The Settlement Method Requires More Discovery Than the Legal Liability Method Contrary to the contentions in the Motion, the Settlement Method requires more discovery than the Legal Liability Method. The Settlement Method—not the Legal Liability Method—focuses on the Debtor’s decades-long settlement history. It necessitates the discovery the Debtor seeks through its Trust discovery motion, which will, among other purposes, determine whether past settlements were tainted by a failure to disclose material exposure evidence. The Debtor also expects that if the ACC and the FCR are permitted to pursue their method, they will seek discovery concerning the Debtor’s settlement practices over a long period Motion Ex. B; see also Deposition of Charles E. Bates PhD (Apr. 16, 2021) at 62:3-65:18 (excerpt attached as Ex. F) (distinguishing financial liability from legal standard of liability). 9
9of time. The ACC and the FCR appear to contemplate that this discovery could be dispensed with, Motion at 2, but the Debtor will show at the long-awaited hearing on its Trust discovery motion in late October that any fair application of the Settlement Method requires this discovery. See also Garlock, 504 B.R. at 83-87 (using similar discovery to find that settlements were “unreliable as a predictor of [Garlock’s] true liability”). The Legal Liability Method requires none of this.6 It instead focuses on the most basic information about the claims that are actually being estimated, including how many are actually being asserted, how many can identify exposure to a Debtor product, their damages, and their other exposures and sources of recovery. The relevant facts are collected through the Questionnaire, which can be issued and returned in a four-month period. See 3/4/21 H’rg Tr. at 12, In re Bestwall LLC, No. 17-31795 (Bankr. W.D.N.C. Mar. 4, 2021) (ordering four-month return period for Bestwall Questionnaire and finding that consistent with previous cases). Nor would the relief sought in the Motion avoid the Questionnaire discovery (again, if the Settlement Method is fairly applied). To be applied reliably, the Settlement Method also needs to know how many current claimants are actually asserting claims and have evidence of DBMP exposure. In Garlock, the court faulted the experts who applied the Settlement Method because they had “fresh data available to them” collected through the Questionnaire process in that case, “but did not use it in any way for their estimates.” Garlock, 504 B.R. at 95. The Settlement Method also requires the parties to understand the facts of the current claims to determine whether they are more or less valuable than past claims. If, for example, current claimants are older on average than past claimants, then (to the extent settlements relate to 6 The Motion makes the puzzling assertion that the Legal Liability Method imagines “an alternative reality based on accusations of malfeasance by the claimants and their counsel.” Motion at 4. To the contrary, the Legal Liability Method avoids inquiry into those topics by focusing on the merit of claims under state law, not past settlements. 10
10liability), they would expect lower settlements than past claimants because damages decrease with age. The Motion thus rests on a false promise. The Protocol would eliminate no discovery or litigation if conducted fairly, but would only deprive the Court and parties of a reliable estimation methodology.7 Far from streamlining estimation, the Estimation Protocol would carry a significant risk of prolonging it and delaying resolution of this case. Rather than developing and litigating the Settlement Method and Legal Liability Method simultaneously, on the basis of common discovery, the Estimation Protocol would forecast a second estimation “should the initial estimation proceeding not prove helpful.” Motion, Ex. A ¶ 3. The proposal does not define when that condition would be met, but it clearly carries the prospect of sequential estimation proceedings, which would take far more time than a single estimation. In the meantime, the Court and parties would not have the Legal Liability Method available, and would not know whether it presents a more reliable picture of the Debtor’s liability than the Settlement Method—all hindering resolution of the case. Nor does the Motion explain how the Court as a practical matter could hear a Second Estimation addressing exactly the same question as the First Estimation (the Debtor’s liability for current and future mesothelioma claims), having already heard evidence and actually rendered a decision in the First Estimation. 7 The Motion cites the Bestwall case as a cautionary example, claiming that the parties continue to “litigate the Bankruptcy Rule 2004 motions” and the “scope and breadth of the estimation process” after the court allegedly ordered a “Garlock-style estimation.” Motion at 5, 8. But the Bestwall Questionnaire continues to be “litigated” only in the sense that certain firms decided to disobey the court’s order and collaterally attack it in Illinois or refuse to answer that Questionnaire as they were ordered to do. See Order on Debtor’s Emergency Motion to Enforce PIQ Order and Automatic Stay and Order to Show Cause, In re Bestwall LLC, No. 17-31795 (Bankr. W.D.N.C. Aug. 18, 2021) (Dkt. 1996); Motion to Enforce PIQ Order With Respect to Non-Compliant Claimants, In re Bestwall LLC, No. 17-31795 (Bankr. W.D.N.C. Sept. 8, 2021) (Dkt. 2065). The discovery relevant to the Settlement Method (including the discovery taken by the Bestwall ACC and FCR relating to Bestwall’s settlement history as well as the Bestwall Trust discovery) has been more complex (though necessary), but it is not expected to delay the estimation proceeding unduly. 11
11B. The Legal Liability Method Provides a Sound Basis for Resolving the Case and Establishing a Section 524(g) Trust The ACC and the FCR also claim an estimate produced using the Legal Liability Method will not be useful in resolving the case or establishing a section 524(g) Trust to pay current and future claims. Motion at 5, 7, 8-9. But the Debtor expects to show that the Legal Liability Method provides the best and most reliable way to fund a section 524(g) Trust that will have sufficient assets to pay current and future claimants equally for decades. Any Trust will have to pay current and future claims—not the past claims that have already been resolved. The Trust (and claimants who will be paid by such a Trust) should thus be intensely interested in the facts about those claims that are relevant to value under state law—including the number of such claims and their exposure profiles. Claimants and any Trust established in this case cannot simply assume that the current and future claims will appear in numbers and amounts exactly like the past claims.8 The Garlock case also shows the utility of the Legal Liability Method in resolving an asbestos bankruptcy case. After the court rendered its estimate, within less than a year the debtor had negotiated a plan of reorganization supported by the Garlock FCR.9 A global agreement with the Garlock ACC and FCR followed about a year after that.10 The Trust was funded with much less than half of the Garlock ACC’s (unreliable) estimate of mesothelioma claims alone (which did not even include costs of administration or claims based on other diseases).11 Yet the Trust 8 In addition, to the extent the past settlements were inflated by a failure to disclose material exposure evidence, the Settlement Method would overstate the value of current and future claims. Any Trust approved in this case will have anti-fraud provisions like those adopted in the Garlock and Kaiser Gypsum cases preventing such conduct in the future. Artificially inflated past values would therefore not be a reliable guide to current and future values. 9 Disclosure Statement for Modified Joint Plan of Reorganization of Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC, et al., and OldCo, LLC, Proposed Successor by Merger to Coltec Industries Inc. at 41. 10 Id. at 43. 11 Id. at ii (Trust funding of $480 million). In addition, some of the $480 million was for claims against co-debtor OldCo, LLC (successor to Coltec Industries Inc) rather than Garlock. 12
12was so well-funded that its value currently exceeds the initial funding by over $30 million, more than four years after the effective date.12 The Legal Liability Method can lead to a similarly positive result here.13 III. Rather Than Order a One-Sided First Estimation, the Court Should Adopt a Reasonable CMO With Opportunities for Settlement Negotiations Built In Instead of ordering a bifurcated process starting with a one-sided First Estimation, the Court should conduct a single estimation, with each side permitted to conduct reasonable discovery and present their cases, and with the Court deciding which case is more persuasive after hearing the evidence. The Court should ensure the estimation happens reasonably soon, not by unfairly limiting the cases the parties can present but instead by adopting a reasonable CMO that results in the expeditious development of the parties’ evidence and a timely estimation trial. The First Estimation proposed by the ACC and the FCR in many ways resembles a kind of mediation. But the estimation CMO can build in the opportunity for settlement negotiations and/or formal mediation based on the evidence developed to that point. Both sides could present their cases to each other (and any mediator), and hopefully an agreement could emerge. Such negotiations and/or mediation would have all the benefits of the Protocol but none of the drawbacks. To this point, the ACC and the FCR have refused to engage with the Debtor on settlement negotiations, despite repeated offers from the Debtor to do so. By ordering estimation and providing for settlement negotiations or formal mediation, the Court can promote resolution 12 See GST Settlement Facility’s Notice of Filing of Annual Report for the Year Ended December 31, 2020, In re Garlock Sealing Techs. LLC, No. 10-31607 (Bankr. W.D.N.C.) (Dkt. 6322), Ex. 1.A at 4 (net assets available for payment of claims over $514 million as of December 31, 2020). 13 Nor will use of the Legal Liability Method result in a discount on the Debtor’s liability, as the Motion claims. Motion at 4. To the contrary, the Debtor expects to offer a Legal Liability Method estimate that will provide the Court and parties with a conservative upper bound on its liability under applicable law. 13
13of the case. But in the event the parties cannot agree before an estimation, the Court should render its estimate after hearing evidence from all parties on their respective estimation methods. CONCLUSION For all of these reasons, the Debtor respectfully requests that the Court deny the Motion and instead direct the parties to negotiate a reasonable CMO for a single estimation proceeding. 14
14Dated: September 24, 2021 Respectfully submitted, Charlotte, North Carolina /s/ Garland S. Cassada Garland S. Cassada N.C. Bar No. 12352 Richard C. Worf, Jr. N.C. Bar No. 37143 Kevin R. Crandall N.C. Bar No. 50643 ROBINSON, BRADSHAW & HINSON, P.A. 101 North Tryon Street, Suite 1900 Charlotte, North Carolina 28246 Email: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com Gregory M. Gordon (TX Bar No. 08435300) Amanda Rush (TX Bar No. 24079422) JONES DAY 2727 N. Harwood Street, Suite 500 Dallas, Texas 75201 Telephone: (214) 220-3939 Facsimile: (214) 969-5100 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com (Admitted pro hac vice) Jeffrey B. Ellman (GA Bar No. 141828) JONES DAY 1221 Peachtree Street, N.E., Suite 400 Atlanta, Georgia 30361 Telephone: (404) 521-3939 Facsimile: (404) 581-8330 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Admitted pro hac vice) Elizabeth Runyan Geise Valerie E. Ross Jeffrey D. Skinner SCHIFF HARDIN LLP 901 K Street NW Suite 700 Washington, DC 20001 Telephone: (202) 778-6451 15
15Email: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com (Admitted pro hac vice) ATTORNEYS FOR DEBTOR AND DEBTOR IN POSSESSION 16
17IN THE UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE In re: ) Chapter 11 ) W.R. Grace & Co., et al., ) Case No. 01-1139 (JKF) ) Debtors. ) (Jointly Administered) GRACE’S MEMORANDUM IN OPPOSITION TO CLAIMANTS’ MOTIONS TO EXCLUDE EXPERT TESTIMONY David M. Bernick, P.C. Janet S. Baer KIRKLAND & ELLIS LLP 200 East Randolph Drive Chicago, Illinois 60601 Telephone: (312) 861-2000 Facsimile: (312) 861-2200 Laura Davis Jones (Bar No. 2436) James E. O’Neill (Bar No. 4042) Timothy P. Cairns (Bar No. 4228) PACHULSKI, STANG, ZIEHL & JONES LLP 919 North Market Street, 17th Floor Wilmington, Delaware 19899-8705 Telephone: (302) 652-4100 Facsimile: (302) 652-4400 December 21, 2007 Co-Counsel for the Debtors and Debtors in Possession
18And it can also been seen in the following comparison of all three curves: Nicholson’s national disease curve, Peterson’s claims-driven curve, and the Grace-specific disease curve: C. Grace’s Estimation Constructs a Classic Toxic-Tort Causation Analysis and Epidemiological Forecast. Deployment of an epidemiologically based estimate has several steps, each driven by distinct and established scientific disciplines. Put most simply, a classic toxic tort analysis (industrial hygiene, risk assessment, etc.) must be done to determine the Grace-caused disease reflected in current claims. Epidemiology then forecasts Grace-caused future disease. This chart should assist the Court in following the specific steps described below and in Section III.
19Figure 1 1. Step 1: Determining who is a current claimant of those who had claims pending as of the filing of Grace’s bankruptcy petition. After determining the total number of existing claims against Grace for personal injuries allegedly caused by exposure to Grace asbestos-containing products (112,690), Grace expert Dr. Florence first undertook to determine the number of the total claims for which there had been filed a Proof of Claim. (See Fig. 1) To do this, Florence matched the POCs to Grace’s historical claims database, and excluded from further analysis the historical claims for which there was no possible POC match, leaving 83,767 claims of a total of 112,690 historical claims. (Florence Rpt. at 8-9) This criterion was designed to determine the number of historical pending claims that would actually be pursued by claimants. (Florence Dep. at 291-92) A similar process was
20used in A.H. Robins Co. v. Piccinin, 788 F.2d 994 (4th Cir. 1986). See In re A.H. Robins Co., 880 F.2d 694, 694-99 (4th Cir. 1989) This simple test – one would think an inarguably appropriate test – reduced the number of total claims by approximately 25% (to 83,767), with some slight variation depending on the type of claim asserted. (See Fig. 2) Claimants offer only the briefest of challenges to this aspect of Grace’s experts’ work – with the FCR devoting about a page of its brief (FCR Mot. 27-28) to the issue. This objection (and all other specific objections to this work) are discussed below in Section III. 2. Step 2: Requiring proof of exposure and causation. The next step determines the extent to which the existing claims are supported by evidence of sufficient exposure to Grace asbestos-containing products to have caused an asbestos-related disease. Grace expert Dr. Lees, an industrial hygienist, analyzed the composition and uses of Grace’s asbestos (and vermiculite) containing products, as well as the types of exposures that individuals could have to such products. He further gathered and evaluated all available industrial hygiene data on Grace product exposure, then subjected it to standard data quality criteria. Using well-established techniques for exposure assessment, he created a job exposure matrix for which he calculated the eight-hour average exposure for individuals interacting with various Grace products. These exposures were broken down both by product type and by the ways in which the individuals interacted with the product (i.e., mixer, sprayer, remover, bystander). Grace expert Dr. Moolgavkar, an epidemiologist, analyzed published epidemiological articles and reports regarding the dose-response relationship for asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer. Dr. Moolgavkar’s analysis determined what can be reliably asserted about
21responses at various doses (“benchmarks”). These exposure benchmarks describe the dose-response relationship – using standard parameters of epidemiology – for specific application to the use of Grace products. These parameters address the following issues: (1) whether there is data to support an association between asbestos and a certain type of disease; (2) how strong the association is between asbestos and disease; and (3) at what levels of exposure that association exists. Grace expert Dr. Anderson, a risk-assessment expert, then applied her experience to the types of exposures in this case. Dr. Anderson used conservative estimates of duration and frequency of exposure, as well as the data and job exposure matrix constructed by industrial hygienist Dr. Lees, in order to estimate the cumulative exposures associated with uses of Grace products. Dr. Anderson then used these cumulative exposures and the benchmarks inherent in the epidemiologic literature that Dr. Moolgavkar’s analysis identified and concluded what can be reliably said about the risks pertaining to the various exposure levels. Dr. Lees’ exposure matrix, Dr. Moolgavkar’s exposure benchmarks, and Dr. Anderson’s risk assessments, allowed Grace expert Dr. Florence, a statistician, to take these analytical criteria and use them to sort the claims at issue in this case based on the information submitted by the claimants via the court-approved PIQ process. The PIQs specifically asked each pending claimant to characterize the claimant’s “Nature of Exposure” as: personally mixing Grace asbestos-containing products, personally installing Grace asbestos-containing products, or being in the proximity of Grace products. (Florence Rpt. at 9) Because many claimants did not provide exposure information on the PIQs themselves, an analysis was done of the back-up data provided as attachments to the PIQs. (Id.) By utilizing
22these two sources of data, Florence took into account both the PIQs and their attachments concerning the existing claims. It then remained for Florence to take the scientific exposure and causation measures developed by the experts in those fields and apply them to sort the universe of identified claims using his expertise as an analyzer of data. Based on the exposure criteria, Florence concluded a total of 10,956 claims met minimum-exposure requirements pursuant to method one, and 23,843 claims pursuant to method two. (Florence Supp. Rpt. at 10) Using the median of these two methods, of the 83,767 claims that had a POC, 17,400 met the established scientific criteria for establishing exposure sufficient to cause disease. The results of this work are shown in the transition from the second to the third column in Figure 1. Depending on the condition claimed, this left between 5 to 15 percent of the total claims as viable. 3. Step 3: Requiring Proof of Disease. The next step is to determine those claimants who have scientifically viable proof of actually having the disease they allege was caused by Grace. Grace expert Dr. Daniel Henry, a radiologist, conducted a study of the claimants x-rays, which the Court had ordered produced to Grace. (See generally Henry X-ray Rpt.; see alsoHenry Supp. X-ray Rpt. at 1-2) Dr. Henry looked at a proportional sample of x-rays related to 800 lung and other cancer claimants. The purpose of the study was twofold: (1) to see if claimants actually had evidence of significant asbestos exposure, and (2) to determine the reliability of the claimants’ doctors’ B-reads. Dr. Henry conducted a classically designed double-blind study, comporting also with published ILO standards. First, Dr. Henry drew a proportional sample of 507 claimants from the 2,857 cancer claimants who produced original or certified x-rays. (Id. at 2-4) Dr. Henry then selected an overlapping sample of 471 claimants whose x-rays had accompanying ILO reads by
23the claimants’ doctors. (Henry X-ray Rpt. at 4-5) The x-rays were read by an independent panel of 3 blinded B-readers, consistent with the ILO standard, which requires replication. The B-readers were not told who was hiring them, who the claimants were, or what the study related to. (Henry X-ray Rpt. at 5) The panel also read 47 control films (22 positive, 25 negative). Analysis of those control films shows moderate to substantial agreement between the readers and the control films, demonstrating accuracy in the panel’s reads. (Id. at 8) Moreover, the control film reads demonstrate that the panel was not biased to over-read or under-read the films. (Id.) The results of this x-ray study demonstrate that only 7% of the claimants were found to have profusion of 1/0 or greater by 2/3 or more of the panel. (Id. at 6) In contrast, claimants’ doctors read 80% of the claimants’ x-rays as 1/0 or greater. (Id) Grace expert Dr. Weill, a pulmonologist, conducted a further study that analyzed a random sample of 150 pulmonary function tests of PFTs of nonmalignant claims, again in accordance with published PFT standards. (Id. at 34-35) In general, claimants are required to show impairment in order to recover for impaired asbestosis or severe asbestosis, and impairment is measured by lung function testing or PFT. The American Thoracic Society (“ATS”) has issued authoritative standards governing such testing. (Weill at 31-34) Weill reviewed the PFT results to determine compliance with ATS standards. Dr. Weill found numerous errors in the testing and reporting of the testing data for the 150 claimants. In fact, none of the PFT tests reviewed complied with all ATS requirements for lung function testing and only 20 complied with the ATS standards for either FVC or TLC. (Id. at 38-40) Dr. Weill concluded: “[O]f the random sample of pulmonary function tests, evaluated for the 150 claimants and submitted by all 69 Law Firms, all 150 (100%) failed to comply with all ATS testing criteria.” (Id. at 39) Accordingly, Dr. Weill concluded that these PFT results “[c]annot
24be used in support of the submitted claim, since they represent inaccurate and incomplete tests[.]” (Id. at 40) Finally, Grace experts Drs. Parker and Haber, pulmonologists, reviewed the practices of 24 doctors and at least 6 screening companies underlying non-malignant claims. In his June report, Dr. Haber identified and discussed accepted medical and scientific methodologies and standards that apply to all physicians. These standards, rules and guidelines govern the physician’s practice and provide a paradigm to evaluate a doctor’s methodology and behavior. Haber discussed individual doctors who provided supporting medical diagnoses for Grace claims and their practices in light of the standards. (See generally Haber Rpt.) In critiquing Claimants’ expert Welch and endorsing Dr. Haber’s report, Dr. Jack Parker opined that medical evidence generated for litigation and medical screening in a litigation context are neither reliable nor medically sound. (Parker Rpt. at 10-13) Both experts found these screening doctors’ and screening companies’ diagnostic practices to be unreliable. As he did with the exposure data, Grace expert Florence took the input provided by those with expertise in the relevant disciplines and used their conclusions to review the data of record in this case. For the lung cancer claimants, Dr. Florence excluded claimants alleging asbestos-related lung cancer as evidenced by radiographic evidence who neither submitted a certified copy of an x-ray nor certified that the x-ray was held by a third party or destroyed. (Florence Supp. Rpt. 10) Dr. Florence then calculated the percentage of those claimants in Dr. Henry’s sample who were found to have profusion of 1/0 or greater by 2/3 or more of the panel and applied that percentage to the remaining lung cancer population. (Id. at 10-11) Based on an expert exposure review of the claimants who met the 1/0 profusion criteria, Dr. Florence estimated the number of lung cancer claimants who could satisfy both exposure and medical
25criteria for lung cancer. (Id. at 11) Dr. Florence estimated that, only 23 satisfied both exposure and causation requirements, and assuming the same proportion for those not providing data, 59 satisfied both. (Id.) Using the median of these methods, of the 5510 lung cancer claims that has a POC, only 41 met the medical causation and exposure criteria. For “other cancer claims,” (non-pulmonary cancers), Dr. Florence assigned value only to laryngeal cancer and excluded all claims alleging other types of non-pulmonary cancer. In 2006, the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine was “charged with evaluating the evidence relevant to the causation of cancers of the pharynx, larynx, esophagus, stomach, colon, and rectum by asbestos and with judging whether the evidence is sufficient to infer a causal association.” Asbestos: Selected Cancers at 1 (2006). The Institute found that there was “not sufficient” evidence “to infer a causal relationship between asbestos exposure” and pharyngeal, stomach, and colorectal cancer. (Id. at 6, 9, 10) The Institute further found that “the evidence is inadequate to infer the presence or absence of a causal relationship between asbestos exposure and esophageal cancer.” (Id. at 8) Only in the case of laryngeal cancer did the Institute find that the evidence was “sufficient to infer a causal relationship” between it and asbestos exposure. Id. at 7; see generally Weill Rpt. Accordingly, Dr. Florence assigned value only to “other cancer claimants” alleging laryngeal cancer. Florence also excluded those “other cancer claimants” alleging laryngeal cancer who did not have sufficient exposure to asbestos to support their claim. To have sufficient exposure to Grace asbestos to cause disease, a claimant, in his or her questionnaire, had to indicate that he or she (1) personally mixed Grace asbestos-containing products, or (2) personally installed Grace asbestos-containing products. (Florence Rpt. at 9) Dr. Florence estimated that 33 claimants met the POC, medical (laryngeal cancer only), and exposure requirements necessary to support a
26claim for “other cancer,” specifically laryngeal cancer. (Id.) Dr. Florence also estimated that, assuming the same proportion s for those not providing data, there were 105 “other cancer claimants” who may have met both the medical and exposure data sufficient to support a claim against Grace. (Id.) Using the median of these two methods, of the 2,110 other cancer claims that had a POC, only 69 met the medical and exposure criteria. Florence also categorized the nonmalignant claims into three categories (severe asbestosis, asbestosis, and unimpaired asbestosis). Dr. Florence estimated the number of non-malignant claims based on diagnoses not from underlying medical doctors found to be unreliable under Dr. Haber and Parkers’ analysis and the claims that met the minimum profusion criteria of 1/0 for asbestosis. (Florence Supp. Rpt. at 12-13) Dr. Florence also used the analysis of Dr. Weill to calculate the percentage of non-malignant claimants who met the standard for severe asbestosis, asbestosis and unimpaired asbestosis based on PFT results that complied with ATS standards. (Florence Rpt. at 13-14) Dr. Florence then applied these percentages to the population of non-malignant claims. (Id.) After also applying the POC and exposure criteria, Dr. Florence estimated that only 7 should be classified as severe asbestosis, 160 as asbestosis, and 2,557 as unimpaired asbestosis. Assuming the same proportions for those not providing data, 22 were classified as severe asbestosis, 480 as asbestosis, and 7,672 as unimpaired asbestosis. (Id. at 14) Using the median of these two methods, of the 73,731 non-malignant claims that had a POC, only 5,450 met these criteria. The final result of this step was that, using the overall median, out of the 17,400 claims that met the exposure criteria, only 5,869 met the relevant medical criteria as well. (See Fig. 1 (column three to column four)) This factor affects different types of claims differently (Florence excludes no mesothelioma claims on a medical basis, for example).
274. Step 4: The final group of valid, Grace-caused disease claims as of April 2, 2001. Figure 2 After applying the criteria summarized above to the existing claims, Florence was left with 5,450 non-malignant claims, 69 other cancer claims, 41 lung cancer claims, and 310 mesothelioma claims. (Fig. 2) This group represented those cases of Grace-caused disease that satisfied a classic toxic-tort causation analysis. This aggregation of claims was then ready to serve as a basis for the final plotting of the Grace curve and provided a reliable basis for the next step in the analysis: projecting the number and nature of Grace-caused future cases of disease, according to the epidemiological principles established by Nicholson.
285. Step 5: Projecting the number and nature of future Grace-caused disease claims. To estimate the amount of future mesothelioma and lung cancer cases that would arise, Dr. Florence relied on two epidemiological methods: Nicholson, Perkel, and Selikoff (1982) and Peto, Henderson, and Pike (1981) (Nicholson, Occupation, Exposure to Asbestos; Julian Peto, Brian E. Henderson, and Malcolm C. Pike, Trends in Mesothelioma Incidence in the United States and the Forecast Epidemic Due to Asbestos Exposure During World War II (1981); Florence Supp. Rpt. at 18). To estimate the amount of Grace-caused other cancer and nonmalignancy claims, he used an “index series” to compare those disease trends to lung cancer and applied regression models. (Florence Supp. Rpt. at 19) He then calculated a median forecast based on 32 individual forecasts, incorporating two methods for calculating claims that would meet minimum criteria, two mesothelioma and lung cancer forecasting methods, four calibration periods, and two other cancer and nonmalignant forecasting methods. (Id.) 6. Step 6: Determining aggregate value. Finally, Florence determined the potential aggregate value of the existing and future claims by ascertaining settlement averages for those past claims that met the scientific criteria discussed above and applied them to the projected cases of Grace-caused disease. (See generally id. at 15 et seq.) Combining pending and future claim estimates, Florence estimated Grace liability to range from $200 million to $989 million through 2049, with a median of $468 million. (Id. at 23) III. CLAIMANTS HAVE NOT SHOWN (AND CANNOT SHOW) THAT GRACE’S ESTIMATION USES UNRELIABLE DATA OR UNRELIABLE METHODOLOGY. Claimants’ criticisms of particular aspects of Grace’s experts’ opinions can best be addressed by examining each under the foregoing legal and scientific framework. The
30Steven T. Salata Apr 13 2012 Clerk, U.S. Bankruptcy Court Western District of North Carolina _____________________________ George R. Hodges United States Bankruptcy Judge IN THE UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT FOR THE WESTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA CHARLOTTE DIVISION ) In re: ) Case No. 10-31607 ) GARLOCK SEALING TECHNOLOGIES, ) LLC., et al., ) ) Debtors.1 ) Chapter 11 ) ORDER FOR ESTIMATION OF MESOTHELIOMA CLAIMS This matter is before the court on the debtors’ “Motion For Estimation Of Asbestos Claims Under Section 502(c) And For Entry Of Case Management Order For Estimation Of Mesothelioma Claims” together with the objections of the Official Committee of 1 The debtors include Garlock Sealing Technologies, LLC, Garrison Litigation Management Group, Ltd. and The Anchor Packing Company.
31Asbestos Personal Injury Claimants and the Future Asbestos Claimants’ Representative.2 The court also requested and the parties briefed the issue of the scope and purpose of the estimation proceeding. By this Order, the court has concluded (1) to order an estimation proceeding; (2) to estimate the total amount of allowed mesothelioma claims in order to determine plan feasibility; (3) to consider properly supported evidence based upon the “settlement” approach and the “legal liability” approach; (4) not to require filing of claims or establish a bar date at this time; and (5) to set a hearing for the estimation proceeding in December 2012. Background 1. Garlock is subject to roughly 5,000 mesothelioma claims that were pending in state courts on the date it filed this Chapter 11 case. It is also potentially subject to many more similar claims in the future. 2. Garlock has proposed a Plan of Reorganization and seeks an estimate of aggregate asbestos claims based on mesothelioma in order to determine the feasibility of its Plan. The ACC and FCR have announced their intention to file a competing plan, and estimation would be necessary for 2 This Order will refer to the parties as “Garlock,” “ACC,” “FCR” and the ACC and FCR together as “claimants.” 2
32consideration of it when appropriate. Further, the ACC and FCR have suggested that estimation would demonstrate that Garlock is insolvent. Estimation 3. All parties agree that estimation is necessary. They disagree on the authority to conduct the estimation, its purpose and the method for determining the estimate. The court agrees that an estimation proceeding is necessary and will grant Garlock’s motion in that regard. Authority and Purpose 4. There appear to be a number of sources of authority for estimation. Foremost among them is section 502(c) of the Bankruptcy Code, which Garlock contends is the only true authority. It provides that: There shall be estimated for purposes of allowance under this section – (1) any contingent or unliquidated claim, the fixing of which, as the case may be, would unduly delay the administration of the case; .... 11 U.S.C. § 502(c). 5. That provision has not limited courts from using estimation in other contexts, such as post-petition administrative claims, In re Dennis Ponte, Inc., 61 B.R. 296 (B.A.P. 9th Cir. 1986); In re Adelphia Bus. Solutions, Inc., 296 B.R. 656 (Bankr. S.D.N.Y. 2003); In re MacDonald, 128 B.R. 161 (Bankr. W.D. Tex. 1991); post-petition claims, In re Pizza of 3
33Hawaii, Inc., 761 F.2d 1374 (9th Cir. 1985); voting purposes, Bittner v. Borne Chem. Co., 691 F.2d 134 (3d Cir. 1982); and for feasibility only, In re Nova Real Estate Inv. Trust, 23 B.R. 62 (Bankr. E.D. Va. 1982). 6. Several courts have estimated asbestos liability for purposes other than allowance. In re Armstrong World Indus., Inc., 348 B.R. 111 (D. Del. 2006); Owens Corning v. Credit Suisse First Boston, 322 B.R. 719 (D. Del. 2005); In re Federal-Mogul Global, Inc., 330 B.R. 133 (D. Del. 2005). In each of these cases the debtor and personal injury claimants had reached an agreement on the asbestos liability and the dispute was with another creditor. 7. Section 105(a) authorizes the court to “issue any order, process or judgment that is necessary or appropriate to carry out the provisions of this title.” 11 U.S.C. § 105(a). Using estimation to further the provisions of sections 1129 and 524(g) appears consistent with that broad authority. 8. While section 502(c) requires that certain claims shall be estimated, it does not purport to be exclusive or to limit the circumstances in which claims may be estimated. A common attribute of all the “authorities” cited above is that the primary concern was the practical necessity of solving a valuation problem through estimation – without a great deal of concern over the source of the authority for the exercise. So, 4
34it appears that estimation has been deemed appropriate “by main strength and awkwardness” in any circumstance where it promotes and expedites the purposes of the Code. 9. All that having been said, it appears proper here to estimate Garlock’s mesothelioma asbestos liability for allowance purposes pursuant to section 502(c). 10. The court anticipates hearing appropriate evidence for the purpose of making a reliable and reasonable estimate of the aggregate amount of money that Garlock will require to satisfy present and future mesothelioma claims. Whether those claims are satisfied through Garlock’s Plan or that anticipated by the ACC and FCR; whether they are satisfied through litigation, settlement or a 524(g) Trust; or whether some as yet unanticipated process is necessary – in all those events, an estimate of the aggregate liability is necessary in order to determine the feasibility of whatever plan emerges. It may be useful for other purposes as well. 11. The court does not anticipate considering or determining any individual claims or any group of claims (other than the entire group). The court does not expect to “allow” any individual or group of claims. Rather, it proposes to estimate the aggregate amount necessary to satisfy present and future claims that may be allowed at some later point in the case. 5
3512. The ACC suggested in its briefs that estimation was necessary to determine whether the debtors are insolvent. The debtors’ estimated mesothelioma liability may become the subtrahend of such a calculation at some point. But, for the purposes of this estimation proceeding, the court will not address the solvency issue. Method of Estimation 13. The goal of an estimation hearing is to arrive at a reasonable and reliable estimate of the amount of Garlock’s liability for present and future mesothelioma claims. The parties differ on how that should be accomplished. 14. The ACC and FCR propose to use a “settlement” approach to estimation by way of statistical extrapolation from Garlock’s history of resolution of mesothelioma claims. Fundamental to this approach is an appraisal of what would have been a fair resolution of claims in the absence of bankruptcy. Owens Corning, 322 B.R. at 722; Federal-Mogul, 330 B.R. at 158. The focus of this approach is on Garlock’s “historical claims-handling practices and expert testimony on trends in the asbestos tort system.” Federal-Mogul, 330 B.R. at 155–56. 15. This methodology has been used by a number of courts in estimation of asbestos liability: In re Armstrong World Indus., Inc., 348 B.R. 111 (D. Del. 2006); Owens Corning v. Credit Suisse Boston, 322 B.R. 719 (D. Del. 2005); In re 6
36Federal-Mogul, 330 B.R. 133 (D. Del. 2005); In re Eagle-Picher Indus., Inc., 189 B.R. 681 (Bankr. S.D. Ohio 1995). In each of these cases, however, the estimation was not contested by the debtor. Rather, the debtor and claimants had agreed on the estimate, and it was being challenged by other creditors. 16. Garlock contends that the settlement approach overstates its liability because it (a) includes settlements (even of invalid claims) motivated by defense costs; and (b) was inflated by the exit from the tort system of a number of large asbestos defendants. 17. Garlock proposes to offer instead a “legal liability” approach to estimation that focuses on the merits of claims. It forecasts an estimation calculated by projecting the number of claimants based upon occupation groups and predicting the likelihood of recovery for separate groups to reach an aggregate damage amount, and then reducing that by other sources of recovery. Cases supporting a merits-based approach include: In re USG Corp., 290 B.R. 223 (D. Del. 2003); In re W. R. Grace & Co., 355 B.R. 462 (Bankr. D. Del. 2006); In re G-I Holdings, 323 B.R. 583 (Bankr. D.N.J. 2005). 18. The claimants assert, inter alia, that Garlock’s approach would involve a “virtual” trial of individual personal injury claims in violation of the claimants’ constitutional 7
37rights; that it would involve an inappropriate “science” determination; and that it is not supported by case law. 19. The court has concluded that the two approaches to estimation are not matters of law, but rather matters of evidence. The court will hear such evidence as is appropriate relating to each approach and will make its decision based upon which is the more persuasive. Rule 408 20. Garlock has asserted that Rule 408 of the Federal Rules of Evidence prohibits the use of its historical settlement data for estimation. The court disagrees and will allow admission into evidence of such data and evidence properly based on it. 21. Rule 408 provides as follows: (a) Prohibited Uses. Evidence of the following is not admissible – on behalf of any party – either to prove or disprove the validity or amount of a disputed claim or to impeach by a prior inconsistent statement or a contradiction: (1) Furnishing, promising, or offering – or accepting, promising to accept, or offering to accept – a valuable consideration in compromising or attempting to compromise the claim; and (2) Conduct or statement made during compromise negotiations about the claim .... Fed. R. Evid. 408. 8
3822. The claimants do not propose to use Garlock’s settlement data to “prove or disprove the validity or amount of a disputed claim.” They propose to use the data to project the aggregate amount of different sets of claims. So, by its terms, Rule 408 does not apply in this circumstance. 23. Further, in the context of a mass-tort case, the court in In re A.H. Robins Co. stated that Rule 408 applied to individual lawsuits between particular parties. 197 B.R. 568, 572 (E.D. Va. 1994). And, the Fourth Circuit has held that Rule 408 does not prohibit the use of a prior settlement when the party “does not seek to show the validity or invalidity of the compromised claim.” Wyatt v. Sec. Inn Food & Beverage, Inc., 819 F.2d 69, 71 (4th Cir. 1987). 24. In the context of Chapter 11 asbestos cases, many courts have admitted evidence of the debtor’s settlement history of resolving past claims for the purpose of estimating liability for unresolved pending and future claims. See Armstrong, 348 B.R. at 123-24; Owens Corning, 322 B.R. at 721-25; In re Babcock & Wilcox Co., 274 B.R. 230, 256-57 (Bankr. E.D. La. 2002); Federal-Mogul, 330 B.R. at 157; Eagle-Picher, 189 B.R. at 686. In fact, the court in Babcock & Wilcox rejected the argument made here by Garlock on the basis that Rule 408 applied only when evidence of settlement was offered respecting the claim 9
39that was the subject of the compromise and not when it is part of another dispute. 274 B.R. at 256. 25. Consequently, the court will permit the use of Garlock’s settlement history data in the estimation proceeding. Bar Date 26. Garlock has sought the establishment of a bar date for the filing of claims (or at least for the filing of questionnaire responses). Because the estimation envisioned by the court does not involve a determination of any individual claim, the court does not believe that a bar date is necessary at this point in the case – for claims or for questionnaire responses. Consequently, the court declines to establish a bar date. Hearing Schedule 27. The court will set the hearing to determine estimation of pending and future mesothelioma claims to begin December 3, 2012, and conclude December 14, 2012. The court will not attempt to dictate how each party presents its case, but will give each side five days to do it. Additional time will be granted only if necessary and if the first allotment has been efficiently utilized. 28. As movant, Garlock is entitled to proceed first on December 3 and conclude by December 7. The ACC and FCR will begin on December 10 and conclude by December 14. 10
4029. The court has asked the parties to discuss intermediate deadlines that may need to be established. Once that is resolved, the court will issue a formal scheduling order. It is, therefore, ORDERED that: 1. Garlock’s Motion for Estimation is granted to the extent set forth above; 2. Garlock’s Motion for Case Management Order and bar date are denied; and 3. A hearing for estimation of the aggregate amount of mesothelioma claims is set to begin December 3, 2012. This Order has been signed electronically. United States Bankruptcy Court The Judge’s signature and Court’s seal appear at the top of the Order. 11
421 UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA 2 CHARLOTTE DIVISION 3 IN RE: : Case No. 17-31795-LTB 4 BESTWALL LLC, : Chapter 11 5 Debtor, : Charlotte, North Carolina Thursday, March 4, 2021 6 : 9:34 a.m. 7 : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : : 8 TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS 9 BEFORE THE HONORABLE LAURA TURNER BEYER, UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY JUDGE 10 APPEARANCES (via ZoomGov): 11 For the Debtor: Robinson, Bradshaw & Hinson, P.A 12 BY: GARLAND S. CASSADA, ESQ. RICHARD C. WORF, ESQ. 13 STUART L. PRATT, ESQ. 101 N. Tryon Street, Suite 1900 14 Charlotte, NC 28246 15 Jones Day BY: GREGORY M. GORDON, ESQ. 16 2727 North Harwood St., Suite 50 Dallas, TX 75201-1515 17 Jones Day 18 BY: JEFFREY B. ELLMAN, ESQ. 1420 Peachtree Str., N.E., #800 19 Atlanta, GA 30309 20 Audio Operator: COURT PERSONNEL 21 Transcript prepared by: JANICE RUSSELL TRANSCRIPTS 22 1418 Red Fox Circle Severance, CO 80550 23 (757) 422-9089 firstname.lastname@example.org 24 Proceedings recorded by electronic sound recording; transcript25 produced by transcription service.
431 motions being raised through Daubert motions or motions 2 . Admittedly, it is appealing to grant the shaping 3 motions to the extent it would help ensure that we reach an 4 estimation hearing in the first quarter of 2022, but the ACC 5 and the FCR have not said anything to convince me that we can'6 reach that goal without granting their motion and that remains7 my intention. 8 So with respect to the motion to establish a 9 methodology for estimating the debtor's joint compound 10 liabilities, there's no basis for the Court to grant the ACC's11 methodology motion or make any determination about the validit12 or merit of either the debtor's legal liability methodology or13 the ACC's settlement methodology at this point. While the ACC14 cited cases where courts have concluded that the settlement 15 methodology is more reliable and made an estimation decision 16 accordingly, no court, to my knowledge, has ruled at this earl17 stage of estimation that it would be appropriate to prevent on18 side or the other from presenting their theory for estimating 19 debtor's asbestos liability in the case. 20 It was most telling to me to learn that when the ACC 21 filed a similar motion in the Specialty Products case, that 22 they withdrew the motion before it came on for hearing based o23 Judge Fitzgerald's comments about the motion. As Judge Hodges24 said in granting the debtor's estimation motion in the Garlock25 case -- and I am loath to quote Judge Hodges for fear one side
441 or the other will draw conclusions from that, which I strongly2 suggest you shouldn't -- but I think he was dead on in Garlock3 when he said that the settlement approach and the legal 4 liability approach to estimation are not matters of law, but, 5 rather, matters of evidence. The Court will hear such evidenc6 as is appropriate relating to each approach and will make its 7 decision upon which is more persuasive. He also noted that, 8 "No court has held that the analysis of the debtor's claims 9 resolution history is the exclusive means to estimate 10 liability. In fact, courts in prior cases have analyzed the 11 merits of claims at estimation." Similarly, in the G-1 12 Holdings case Judge Gambardella determined that it was 13 appropriate to allow both sides to make their case. 14 I agree with those courts and conclude for the same 15 reasons I should deny the ACC's methodology motion without 16 prejudice to that motion being raised as a pre-trial motion. 17 With respect to the motion to exclude the use of 18 medical science evidence in the estimation proceeding, in 19 reviewing the transcript and the arguments made regarding this20 motion it underscored for me that there was some confusion 21 surrounding the exact relief being sought by the ACC in that 22 motion. Ms. Ramsey clarified on the record that the motion 23 seeks to prohibit the debtor from presenting evidence regardin24 the chrysotile defense. The debtor argued that this relief is25 unprecedented and that medical science evidence has been
46UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT DISTRICT OF DELAWARE IN RE: . Chapter 11 . SPECIALTY PRODUCTS HOLDING . Case No. 10-11780(JFK) CORP., et al., . (Jointly Administered) . . February 14, 2011 . 9:30 a.m. Debtors. . (Wilmington) . TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE HONORABLE JUDITH K. FITZGERALD UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT JUDGE APPEARANCES: For the Debtors: Gregory M. Gordon, Esq. Dan B. Prieto, Esq. Jones Day Zachary I. Shapiro, Esq Richards, Layton & Finger, P.A. For Allstate: Michael P. Migliore, Esq. Smith Katzenstein Jenkins, LLP For USM PI Trust: Scott J. Leonhardt, Esq. The Rosner Law Group, LLC For Wachovia: Leigh-Anne M. Raport, Esq. Ashby & Geddes, P.A. For CE Trust/Lummus Trust: Peter C. D’Apice, Esq. Stutzman, Bromberg, Esserman & Plifka, P.C. For the Claimants: Robert W. Phillips, Esq. Simmons, Browder, Gianaris, Angelide & Barnerd, LLC
471 there’s a, a methodology here that’s going to be employed by2 their estimation expert that is, that requires this 3 information and will utilize it, we would like the 4 opportunity, and would press our motion to establish an 5 estimation methodology, because we believe that that 6 methodology should be exposed to a Daubert Challenge. And s7 we have left it pending because we were protective of that8 position. If, on the other hand, the Court is going to rule9 on the four matters that have been fully briefed, that are10 outstanding, without getting into a debate over methodology11 that Bates Whites intends to employ, then we would withdraw12 the motion without prejudice at this point, because it would13 not be necessary, in our view, to go forward with it. Our14 concern is primarily, and it was after the Debtors’ first15 brief, that the Debtor has spent about half of its brief 16 talking about the Bates Whites methodology. And it is our17 opinion that that methodology is not based on scientific 18 grounds, and if, to the extent that that’s a methodology 19 that’s justifying this discovery, we would like an 20 opportunity to challenge it. 21 THE COURT: Well, here’s the problem that I have. 22 can understand that challenge in the Daubert context, but I’23 a little unclear as to how it will be challenged without 24 first knowing what the expert actually did. I mean, I can25 see the Daubert challenge after you have a report and you se
481 what was done, but how do you challenge it in advance saying2 this isn’t what you can do? Because the discovery of the 3 information itself may change what the expert decides to do4 with the information and how it’s handled. 5 MS. RAMSEY: Your Honor, I think that the expert ha 6 articulated the methodology, very clearly, in the papers tha7 have been filed in his declarations. That he would intend t8 employ, he would intend to gather data and use it in very 9 specific ways to make very specific conclusions. And as far10 as we can tell, while the Court is certainly right, I guess,11 things could change, based upon what the proposal is right12 now, we think that it would subject it currently to a Dauber13 type challenge. 14 THE COURT: But that’s the problem. I mean, if I 15 say, Okay, you can’t use piece of information A in context X16 that doesn’t mean you can’t use it in context Y. So I’m not17 sure that I’m not essentially giving - - I mean they may not18 be advisory opinions. It may force the methodology into a19 specific direction. But I don’t think it ends what the 20 Committee’s concern is. I don’t think there’s a way to 21 address the Committee’s concern until the methodology is 22 actually known, and stated in a report, and then you can 23 challenge the specifics of what was done, as opposed to a24 hypothetical of what may be done. 25 MS. RAMSEY: Your Honor, if I can just respond to
50SEAL) IN THE UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF DELAWARE IN RE: . Chapter 11 . SPECIALTY PRODUCTS HOLDING . Case No. 10-11780(JKF) CORP., et al., . (Jointly Administered) . July 16, 2012(9:03 a.m.) Debtors. . (Wilmington) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SPECIALTY PRODUCTS HOLDING . CORP., BONDEX INTERNATIONAL, . INC., . Plaintiffs, . . v. . Adv.Pro.No. 10-51085(JKF) . THOSE PARTIES LISTED ON . EXHIBIT A TO COMPLAINT and . JOHN AND JANE DOES 1-1000, . . Defendants. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . SPECIALTY PRODUCTS HOLDING . CORP., and BONDEX INTERNATIONAL., INC., . Plaintiffs, . . v. . Adv.Pro.No. 12-50755(JKF) . THOSE PARTIES LISTED ON . SCHEDULE A TO THE COMPLAINT, . . Defendants. . TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS BEFORE THE HONORABLE JUDITH K. FITZGERALD UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT JUDGE Appearances: For the Debtors: Daniel J. DeFranceschi, Esq. Richards, Layton & Finger Gregory M. Gordon, Esq. Daniel B. Prieto, Esq. Jones Day Gus Kallergis, Esq. Calfee, Halter & Griswold, LLP Edward Houff, Esq. Evert Weathersby & Houff
511 can’t testify based on the hypothetical assertion that an 2 expert may say, Look, claim A wasn’t exposed, claim B wasn’t3 exposed, claim C wasn’t exposed as opposed to saying, We’ve4 got aggregate evidence that shows XYZ. I can’t do that, Mr. 5 Sheppard. I don’t have an expert report that tells me that6 that’s the process by which anybody’s going forward now. 7 MR. SHEPPARD: Well, I guess, Your Honor, then 8 perhaps the way to do this, and again what we were hoping to9 do was avoid having to conduct discovery but perhaps we can10 revisit this motion after we see their expert reports on 11 August 15th. I mean, that might make some more sense, but,12 Your Honor, I do believe the case law allows the Court to13 engage in a discussion with regard to methodology. That’s14 exactly what is going on in the other cases, the cases that w15 cite Armstrong, et cetera, the cases they cite, USG and G-116 Holdings, and I think this goes back to the same debate that17 we had back during the 2004 fights on the PIQ, and that is,18 you know, What is the methodology going to look like here? I19 think the debtors are taking this Court down that slippery20 slope and what we’re trying to avoid, Your Honor, is having t21 pay for it as we slide down that slope. 22 THE COURT: Mr. Sheppard, I don’t know how to avoid 23 it. You can lead a horse to water, when it gets to water,24 that’s a different - what happens at the point where you hit25 the water, that’s a different issue. I don’t think we’re at
521 the water yet. I don’t have anything. I have no proposal2 from the debtor that I’m aware of as to how this estimation3 process is going to go. I have no expert reports from 4 anybody. I don’t even know what your experts intend to say5 except that they’ve testified in cases before. So, assuming6 that they follow the same track, I have some understanding of7 what they’ve done in the past, but that doesn’t necessarily8 mean they’re going to do the same thing here. So, at this9 point you’re asking me to cut off discovery for purposes whic10 I don’t understand. I mean, obviously, there’s science 11 involved in estimating asbestos claims. So to say that there12 is no science, I’m not going to make a ruling like that, of13 course there’s science. 14 MR. SHEPPARD: No, Your Honor, that’s not what we’re 15 suggesting. I think to the extent that these experts would b16 proposed to provide context, to provide evidence with regard17 to trends in the law, evidence in connection with the trends18 in the science we believe that’s entirely appropriate, howeve19 again, if you look closely, and I agree with my co-counsel,20 Mr. Finch, perhaps it’s better to address this not in a vacuu21 but with regard to the specifics of the expert reports, but,22 Your Honor, the point is, is that we were hoping to avoid tha23 expense. We’re $17 million plus into this process and, you24 know, we’re continuing to rack up these fees, which I think25 everybody recognizes here for the most part, ultimately come
54·1· · · · · · · UNITED STATES BANKRUPTCY COURT ·2· · · · · · WESTERN DISTRICT OF NORTH CAROLINA ·3· · · · · · · · · · CHARLOTTE DIVISION ·4 · · ·In re· · · · · · · · · · · · Chapter 11 ·5 · · ·DBMP LLC,· · · · · · · · · · Case No. 20-30080 (JCW) ·6· · · · · · ·Debtor. · · ·---------------------------/ ·7· ·DBMP LLC, ·8· · · · · · ·Plaintiff, ·9· ·vs.· · · · · · · · · · · · ·Adv. Pro. No. 20-03004 · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · · ·20-03004 (JCW) 10· ·THOSE PARTIES LISTED · · ·ON APPENDIX A TO COMPLAINT 11· ·and JOHN AND JANE DOES · · ·1-100, 12 · · · · · · · ·Defendants. 13· ·---------------------------/ 14 15· · · · · · · · · · ** CONFIDENTIAL ** 16· · · · · · · · · · REMOTELY CONDUCTED 17· · · VIDEOTAPED DEPOSITION OF CHARLES E. BATES, PhD 18· · · · San Diego, California (Witness's location) 19· · · · · · · · · Friday, April 16, 2021 20 21· ·Stenographically reported by: · · ·LORRIE L. MARCHANT, RMR, CRR, CCRR, CRC 22· ·California CSR No. 10523 · · ·Washington CSR No. 3318 23· ·Oregon CSR No. 19-0458 · · ·Texas CSR No. 11318 24 25· ·Job No. 192223
55·1· ·of that model that are germane to what we're talking ·2· ·about here.· But there's more recent stuff. ·3· · · ·Q.· ·You mention that the amount of the ·4· ·settlement is not a direct measure of the ·5· ·defendant's liability. ·6· · · · · · What do you mean by "the defendant's ·7· ·liability"? ·8· · · ·A.· ·Well, so we can think of liability as -- in ·9· ·several different definitions.· So I think it makes 10· ·sense to make that clear here. 11· · · · · · There is probably a notion of the intrinsic 12· ·liability, which is, if all facts were well known 13· ·and uncertainty was removed, what does the law 14· ·define as what a company owes if the fact of an 15· ·injury has occurred and the fact that the 16· ·responsibility is known, what that would be -- what 17· ·would a plaintiff owe, and that would sort of be the 18· ·intrinsic liability. 19· · · · · · Then there is the notion more of in the 20· ·world of tort liability, which is in the face of the 21· ·uncertainty that we face in knowing those things 22· ·what would a jury determine and what would a 23· ·judicial process determine ultimately that a company 24· ·owed, which is -- has considerable volatility and 25· ·uncertainty around what those numbers are.· But the
56·1· ·risk of that is something that a company takes ·2· ·account of in a practical sense. ·3· · · · · · But that is sort of -- at its core has the ·4· ·intrinsic liability, and then there's the ·5· ·uncertainty around what we know about the case and ·6· ·how the particular jury will -- judicial process ·7· ·will determine that. ·8· · · · · · And then there is a financial liability ·9· ·which relates to what does a company spend from the 10· ·standpoint of resolving its asbestos cases for the 11· ·purposes of its own finances and understanding what 12· ·its expenditures are associated with that, which is 13· ·made up of the money that it spends to defend the 14· ·cases; the money that it spends to resolve the cases 15· ·and payments to the plaintiffs; the amount of money, 16· ·time, and effort and budget that it has internal to 17· ·defend the cases, which have a financial impact of 18· ·the company. 19· · · · · · So there's a financial notion of liability, 20· ·which is liability in a financial sense.· There's a 21· ·tort risk motion of it, which is known as tort 22· ·liability.· And then there's the intrinsic 23· ·liability, which is the abstract legal notion of 24· ·what it would be if all the uncertainty was -- there 25· ·was no uncertainty and it was -- all of the cases
57·1· ·were resolved. ·2· · · · · · So when we say that something is not a ·3· ·direct measure of a defendant's liability, what ·4· ·we're referring there to is any one of those ·5· ·concepts that here in particular from a liability ·6· ·from the standpoint of the legal definition of it. ·7· ·Just simply knowing how much a company paid to ·8· ·settle a case doesn't tell you what its intrinsic ·9· ·liability or even what its tort liability is.· It's 10· ·obviously an expenditure.· So it relates to 11· ·financial -- financial notion of that. 12· · · · · · But by simply knowing what that amount of a 13· ·settlement, it doesn't tell you what a company would 14· ·have its intrinsic liability.· That is, most notably 15· ·a defendant in many cases will set a lawsuit for -- 16· ·just to avoid the cost associated with defending the 17· ·case, even in the cases where it believes that it 18· ·has no actual legal liability.· But the process is 19· ·costly and onerous; so it pays to get out from under 20· ·that and move on. 21· · · ·Q.· ·And would you agree also sometimes a 22· ·plaintiff will settle a case because they're in dire 23· ·need of money and they can't afford to wait for 24· ·their case to be adjudicated through the court 25· ·system?
58·1· · · ·A.· ·There are circumstances where that would ·2· ·occur, though that's -- I don't think that's the ·3· ·dominant effect here in asbestos cases, but that can ·4· ·occur.· There are cases where it can go either way. ·5· ·It all depends on the circumstances of the ·6· ·particular litigation. ·7· · · ·Q.· ·Now, when you use the term in paragraph 6 ·8· ·"defendants' liability," I gather from what you said ·9· ·you do not mean financial liability.· Is that 10· ·correct? 11· · · ·A.· ·Correct.· I mean, I think that -- yes, 12· ·that's correct.· What the literature is talking 13· ·about, the economic literature is talking about, is 14· ·liability as defined from the legal standard. 15· · · ·Q.· ·So, again, when you use the term 16· ·"defendant's liability," you mean something other 17· ·than financial liability; correct? 18· · · ·A.· ·In this context, yes. 19· · · ·Q.· ·Okay.· Now, do you mean -- when you use the 20· ·term "defendant's liability," do you mean intrinsic 21· ·liability or tort risk liability? 22· · · ·A.· ·Well, in this case it can be either one. 23· ·Much of the literature that I'm talking about is 24· ·abstracting from the uncertainty of it in terms of 25· ·the discussion of it.· So it's starting from that