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The Second Circuit Court of Appeals announced on Tuesday that Pfizer can be named in some class action lawsuits related to its now-defunct subsidiary, Quigley.
The ruling opens the door for Peter Angelos to pursue Pfizer under Pennsylvania law for manufacturer liability. Angelos, a prominent asbestos attorney, argues that Pfizer should be held accountable for Quigley products that contained asbestos because the Pfizer logo appeared on Quigley products, reports Bloomberg.
Quigley was involved in the manufacture of “refractories,” which are “materials that retain their strength at high temperatures.” From the 1930s through the 1970s, some Quigley products, including a product called “Insulag,” contained asbestos.
Pfizer acquired Quigley in 1968, becoming Pfizer’s wholly-owned subsidiary. After the acquisition, various marketing materials for Quigley products, including Insulag, featured the Pfizer name, logo, and trademark. Once the hazardous effects of asbestos became widely known, more than 160,000 plaintiffs filed asbestos-related suits against Quigley. Many of these suits also named Pfizer as a defendant.
Peter Angelos started filing asbestos lawsuits against Pfizer in 1999 due to the company’s connection with Quigley. Angelos claims that Pfizer is liable as a manufacturer because it allowed its label to be put on Quigley’s asbestos-contaminated products, reports Reuters.
Quigley filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2004. The same year, the bankruptcy court granted Quigley’s motion for a preliminary injunction enjoining all of the parties from taking further action against Pfizer during Quigley’s chapter 11 case. A district court reversed the order in 2011, reports Bloomberg.
While the Second Circuit Court of Appeals did not address the merits of Angelos’ asbestos lawsuit against Pfizer, the court ruled that section 524(g) of the bankruptcy code — which deals specifically with asbestos liability cases — permits Angelos to bring a class action lawsuit against Pfizer.