Asbestos Corporation and Its Defense Lawyers to Face Justice for Destroying Evidence

Asbestos victims have been granted access to justice after presenting evidence that a corporate defense firm enabled its client to hide and destroy documents that showed their product contained deadly asbestos, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on September 3, 2014. 

In the case, Kimberlee Williams, et al. v. BASF Catalysts LLC, et al., victims offered evidence that the defense firm, Cahill Gordon & Reindel LLP, fabricated false documents to support BSAF’s cover-up. BSAF, previously known as Englehard Corp, produced talc that was used in wall board, automobiles, dusting agents, and even children’s balloons. According to the victims’ complaint, this talc was laden with asbestos, but Cahill conspired with BASF to destroy evidence and fabricate false documents in order to prevent victims poisoned and killed by the asbestos from holding the corporation accountable in court. The victims further allege that as a result of Cahill and BASF’s fraud, victims were forced into unfair settlements, or were completely unable to file a claim against the corporation.

The Third Circuit’s decision reverses and remands a 2012 district court decision dismissing the case, and grants victims the opportunity to prove their allegations in court. In its opining, the court rejected the defense’s argument that the victims’ allegations were “conclusory and implausible”: 

“Commonsense and judicial experience underscore the plausibility of Williams’s claims. Williams alleges that in the asbestos-injury lawsuit, BASF and Cahill concealed, destroyed, and lied about the presence of asbestos in their products. What could be more important to a claim that talc caused asbestos disease than proof that the talc contained asbestos?” 

“For far too long, the asbestos industry has concealed the dangers of this deadly product all in the name of profit,” American Association for Justice President Lisa Blue Baron said. “This decision goes a long way towards balancing the scales of justice.”

The victims allege that Cahill and BASF’s scheme went on for nearly 30 years, but was finally revealed by a former Engelhard employee who blew the whistle on the cover-up. 

The Third Circuit’s opinion can be found online here

The victims’ complaint can be found online here.