Judge Finds Asbestos Liability for Insurers in Unusual Defendant Class Action

More than 20,000 individuals who have asbestos-related tort claims pending against the Robert A. Keasbey Co. scored a major victory Tuesday, as Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Richard Braun ruled that the defunct insulation giant's insurers may be liable for hundreds of millions of dollars in coverage.

The ruling came in an unusual defendant class action -- in which the class constitutes a defendant, not the plaintiff -- initiated by the Keasbey Co.'s primary insurers, plaintiffs Continental Casualty Coverage and American Casualty Co. of Reading, Pa.

In their class action, the insurers sought a declaratory judgment holding that their policies were exhausted by $8.7 million in previously made payments. In the alternative, they argued, numerous equitable doctrines precluded the defendant class members from pursuing their claims.

Braun disagreed, and found that the insurers may be liable for upwards of $250 million.

Oops. Details here from the New York Law Journal via Law.com. The Court's decision is here.