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NEW YORK—A federal appeals court has ruled that Pfizer Inc. can face asbestos liability suits in Pennsylvania state courts over asbestos products manufactured by a now-bankrupt subsidiary.
Tuesday's ruling in In re Quigley Co. in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York upheld a ruling last year in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York that overturned a bankruptcy court ruling that an injunction in the bankruptcy case of Quigley Co. Inc. imposed a stay on the suits against Quigley's parent, Pfizer.
Quigley, which Pfizer acquired in 1968, filed for bankruptcy in 2004. The company made products containing asbestos from the 1930s though the 1970s. More than 160,000 plaintiffs filed asbestos-related suits against Quigley, many of them also naming Pfizer as a defendant.
Beginning in 1999 attorney Peter G. Angelos began bringing multiple suits against Pfizer on behalf of plaintiffs who argued they were injured by asbestos exposure. The suits alleged that Pfizer's logo appeared on Quigley advertising and Quigley products' packaging.
In its ruling, the district court held that because the Angelos suits “seek to bring separate direct actions against Pfizer...because Pfizer breached an independent legal duty not to employ its name and logo in the marketing of a defective product,” the suits fell outside the scope of the bankruptcy court's injunction.