CLEVELAND - (Mealey's) The judge presiding over the consolidated welding fume products liability litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio today issued a memorandum and order establishing a Welding Fume MDL Resolution Fund and appointing a claims administrator to distribute the fund to plaintiffs in the litigation (In re: Welding Fume Products Liability Litigation, MDL 1535, No. 03-17000, N.D. Ohio).
(Order available. Document #70-120508-007R.)
The fund is established as a qualified settlement fund, according to Judge Kathleen McDonald O'Malley.
David R. Cohen, the special master in the multidistrict litigation, is appointed the claims administrator, according to Judge O'Malley. Cohen is authorized to develop protocols to distribute the funds, according to Judge O'Malley.
The claims administrator may be instructed to deliver fund statements to the court, according to Judge O'Malley.
The resolution agreement was concluded Jan. 18, Thermadyne Holdings said in an April 18 disclosure to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The defendants that joined the agreement are A.O. Smith Corp., Arcos Industries, Avesta Polarit Welding Inc., Bohler Welding Group USA Inc., CBS Corp., Deloro Stellite, Eutectic Corp., Hobart Brothers Co., Linde, Praxair, Sandvik Inc., Select-Arc Inc., Socra Corp., TDY Industries Inc., Techalloy Inc., The ESAB Group Inc., The Lincoln Electric Co. and Thermadyne Holdings.
The resolution agreement became binding on the parties April 12, the deadline for all plaintiffs in 100 cases pending in the Northern District of Ohio and 700 cases pending in other courts to stipulate to dismissal of the claims with prejudice, according to Thermadyne Holdings.
The plaintiffs' counsel who signed the resolution agreement are Don Barrett of Barrett Law Group in Lexington, Miss.; Walter Umphrey of Provost Umphrey Law Firm in Beaumont, Texas; Drew Ranier of Ranier Law Firm in Lake Charles, La.; John R. Climaco of Climaco, Wilcox, Peca, Tarantino & Garofoli Co. in Cleveland; J. Michael Papantonio of Levin, Papantonio, Thomas, Mitchell, Eschner & Proctor in Pensacola, Fla.; Joseph F. Rice of Motley Rice in Mount Pleasant, S.C.; John E. Williams Jr. of Williams Kherkher Hart Boundas in Houston; and Richard M. Heimann of Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein in San Francisco.
In addition to the claims pending in the Northern District of Ohio multidistrict litigation, the resolution agreement applies to claims in Arkansas, California, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Texas, the Virgin Islands and West Virginia.
John H. Beisner, Stephen J. Harburg and Jessica D. Miller of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom in Washington, D.C., are defense liaison counsel. Climaco of Climaco, Wilcox, Peca, Tarantino & Garofoli Co. in Cleveland is liaison counsel for the plaintiffs.
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