Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer tangled up in asbestos injury lawsuits

3 Jul 2013 by Wendi Lewis under Legal, News

Pfizer logo 100x100 Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer tangled up in asbestos injury lawsuitsIt seems odd that a company primarily involved in human pharmaceutical research, development and production is on the hook for nearly $1 billion in damages to the victims of -related diseases. But that’s exactly the situation in which drug maker Pfizer finds itself.

Recently the U.S. Supreme Court declined Pfizer’s appeal to a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which decided a number of lawsuits linking Pfizer to a company it previously owned interest could go forward. The Court of Appeals decision allows litigation to proceed that would hold Pfizer accountable for $964 million to be put into a settlement fund for people who have claims related to asbestos exposure resulting in illness and death.

is known to cause diseases including asbestosis, a severe scarring of the lungs, and , a rare and deadly cancer that affects the lining of the lungs, abdomen and occasionally the heart. There is no known cure for . More than 10,000 people each year are diagnosed with -related diseases.

Pfizer is linked to the litigation because it previously owned Quigley Company, Inc., which made heavy insulation for heavy industry. The purchase was part of a diversification plan that included a minerals, pigments and metals division. The Quigley insulation was used in projects operated by this division.

The Quigley insulation contained . Quigley filed bankruptcy in 2004, facing 160,000 lawsuits related to . Pfizer says this bankruptcy should protect it from liability in these lawsuits.

The Courts disagree. Federal Judge Stuart Bernstein issued a ruling that will allow Quigley to exit bankruptcy and hold its former owner, Pfizer, responsible for contributing to the settlement fund.

There are still a number of individual lawsuits not part of the settlement fund that are pending in this litigation. Pfizer says it will contest these lawsuits.


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