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United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
March 13, 2014, Argued; September 3, 2014, Filed
[*310] FUENTES, Circuit Judge.
This putative class action lawsuit alleges that BASF Catalysts LLC and Cahill Gordon & Reindel conspired to prevent thousands of asbestos-injury victims from obtaining fair tort recoveries for their injuries. Decades ago, BASF's predecessor, Engelhard Corp, discovered that its talc products contained disease-causing asbestos. Plaintiffs allege that, rather than confront the consequences of this discovery, Engelhard, with the help of its attorneys from Cahill, elected to pursue a strategy of denial and deceit. According to the complaint, Engelhard and Cahill collected the tests and reports that documented the presence of asbestos in Engelhard [*311] talc and they destroyed or hid them; when new plaintiffs focused on Engelhard's [**3] talc as a possible cause of their disease, Engelhard represented that its talc did not contain asbestos and that no tests had ever said otherwise.
As pleaded, this lawsuit concerns years of purported deceit by Engelhard and Cahill. This action is not itself an asbestos injury case, but rather an action about Engelhard and Cahill's conduct when they confronted asbestos injury cases in state courts around the country. The alleged scheme outlived most of the original plaintiffs, whose diseases have since taken their lives. It did not last forever. Spurred by recent testimony that Engelhard's talc contained asbestos and that the company knew it, survivors and successors of the original asbestos-injury suits have brought new claims against Cahill and BASF, Engelhard's successor. The crux of their complaint is that BASF and Cahill defrauded them in their initial lawsuits and caused them to settle or dismiss claims that they would otherwise have pursued.
The District Court dismissed plaintiffs' complaint in its entirety. Analyzing the claims individually, the District Court determined that each was inadequately pled or barred by law. Analyzing the various declarations and injunctions requested [**4] by plaintiffs—ranging from an injunction against the future invocation of res judicata based on past state court judgments to a declaration that BASF and Cahill committed fraud—the District Court dismissed them as beyond its power to grant. The Court did, however, reject defendants' argument that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine deprived it of jurisdiction. Plaintiffs have appealed the dismissal of three claims: fraud, fraudulent concealment, and violation of the New Jersey Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Plaintiffs also defend their requested relief.
Full case includes Shepard's, Headnotes, Legal Analytics from Lex Machina, and more.
765 F.3d 306 *; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 16999 **
KIMBERLEE WILLIAMS, individually, as personal representative of the Estate of Charles L. Williams, deceased on behalf of said estate, and as representative of others similarly situated; NANCY PEASE, individually, as personal representative of the Estate of William Clark, deceased on behalf of said estate, and as representative of others similarly situated; MARILYN HOLLEY, as personal representative of the Estate of Kathryn Darnell, deceased on behalf of said estate, and as representative of others similarly situated; and; DONNA WARE, individually, as personal representative of the Estate of Jennifer Graham, deceased on behalf of said estate, and as representative of others similarly situated; DONNETTE WENGERD, individually, as personal representative of the Estate of Jennifer Graham, deceased on behalf of said estate, and as representative of others similarly situated; ROSANNE CHERNICK, Appellants v. BASF CATALYSTS LLC; CAHILL GORDON AND REINDEL LLP; CAHILL GORDON AND REINDEL, A Partnership including a Professional Corporation; THOMAS D. HALKET; ARTHUR A. DORNBUSCH, II; GLENN HEMSTOCK; HOWARD G. SLOANE, a/k/a Peter Sloane; IRA J. DEMBROW; SCOTT A. MARTIN; JOHN DOE BUSINESS ENTITIES 1 TO 100, are fictitious corporations, partnerships, or other business entities or organizations that BASF Catalysts LLC is responsible or liable for and whose identities are not presently known, which entities may have mined, milled, manufactured, sold, supplied; JOHN DOE BUSINESS ENTITIES 101 TO 200, are the fictitious firms, corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies/associations or other business entities or organizations whose indentities are not presently known, and who may have perpetrated, or are responsible for, are the alter egos; JOHN DOE LAWYERS 1 TO 500, are the fictitious names of lawyers and law firms, legal professional corporations, legal professional partnerships, or other professional business business entities or organizations, or their agents, employees, or servants, acting within the course and; JOHN DOE 1 TO 500, are the fictitious names of individuals whose identities are not presently known, who may have perpetrated, aided and abetted, conspired with, acted in concert with and/or are secondarily responsible or liable under law for the conduct or activities of
Subsequent History: On remand at, Motion denied by Williams v. BASF Catalysts LLC, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46273 (D.N.J., Apr. 5, 2016)
Later proceeding at Williams v. BASF Catalysts, LLC, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122053, 2017 WL 3317295 (D.N.J., Aug. 3, 2017)
Later proceeding at Williams v. BASF Catalysts, LLC, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 154772 (D.N.J., Sept. 21, 2017)
Magistrate's recommendation at Williams v. BASF Catalysts LLC, 2021 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 251973 (D.N.J., Dec. 15, 2021)
Prior History: [**1] On Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey. (D.N.J. No. 2-11-cv-01754). District Judge: Honorable Stanley R. Chesler.
Williams v. BASF Catalysts LLC, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175918 (D.N.J., Dec. 12, 2012)
district court, asbestos, talc, state court, parties, spoliation, lawsuits, proceedings, products, allegations, fraudulent concealment, plaintiffs', injunction, cases, asbestos-injury, federal court, litigation privilege, concealed, destroyed, lawyers, requested relief, Anti-Injunction Act, choice-of-law, judgments, damages, courts, tests, representations, injuries, justiciability
Civil Procedure, Preclusion of Judgments, Full Faith & Credit, Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Defenses, Demurrers & Objections, Motions to Dismiss, Failure to State Claim, Pleadings, Complaints, Requirements for Complaint, Federal & State Interrelationships, Choice of Law, General Overview, Torts, Fraud & Misrepresentation, Actual Fraud, Elements, Defenses, Privileges, Absolute Privileges, Preliminary Considerations, Criminal Law & Procedure, Obstruction of Administration of Justice, Perjury, Governments, Courts, Judges, Judicial Immunity, Evidence, Relevance, Preservation of Relevant Evidence, Spoliation, Intentional Torts, Malicious Prosecution, Defenses, Nondisclosure, Legal Ethics, Professional Conduct, Antitrust & Trade Law, Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organizations, Claims, Private Actions, Scope, Anti-Injunction Act, Abstention, Justiciability, Case & Controversy Requirements, Constitutional Law, Case or Controversy, Standing, The Judiciary, Ripeness, Injury in Fact, Ripeness, Judgments, Declaratory Judgments