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ATRA Applauds 4th Circuit’s Denial of En Banc Review in Bestwall Litigation

— August 23, 2023

Allowing the company to continue the bankruptcy process will help ensure equitable and efficient resolution in complex mass tort claims.

WASHINGTON – The American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) applauds the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit for its decision denying en banc review in the Bestwall litigation.

This decision preserves the removal of thousands of liability claims from the tort system, which will protect a fair and efficient resolution of complex asbestos litigation.

Bestwall LLC, a subsidiary of Georgia-Pacific, includes liability for thousands of asbestos claims and filed for bankruptcy in 2017. The 4th Circuit’s denial of en banc review supports an equitable resolution, countering attempts by plaintiffs’ lawyers to undermine legitimate claim resolution provided by Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

“By allowing the bankruptcy proceedings to continue, the 4th Circuit champions justice for all claimants and establishes an important precedent for the use of bankruptcy in complex mass tort claims,” ATRA President Tiger Joyce said. “Unlike traditional mass tort litigation, bankruptcy ensures swift resolution, avoiding the uncertainty, delays, and expenses often associated with lengthy trials.”

Further complicating the matter, a coalition of 21 state attorneys general attempted to insert themselves into the Bestwall litigation by filing an amicus brief last month. Their brief raised concerns about consumer protection and supported plaintiffs’ motion for en banc review.

“The AGs’ claims regarding consumer protection were primarily an attempt to support plaintiffs’ lawyers’ interests, and less so a genuine interest in safeguarding consumers’ interests,” Joyce said. “Notably, no state has previously appeared in the bankruptcy proceedings, making the AGs’ intervention an extraneous argument without a valid foundation.”

In July, ATRA filed an amicus brief further highlighting bankruptcy’s effectiveness in addressing mass tort claims and urging the 4th Circuit to reject the petition of the AGs.

About the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA)Founded in 1986, ATRA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization and is the nation’s first organization dedicated exclusively to reforming the civil justice system through education and legislative enactment. ATRA acts as a nationwide network of state-based liability reform coalitions backed by 142,000 grassroots supporters. ATRA works to bring greater fairness, predictability and efficiency to America’s civil justice system. Those efforts have resulted in the enactment of state and federal laws that make the system fairer for everyone.

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