Ortiz v. Fibreboard Corp., 527 U.S. 815, 11 (1999)

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Cite as: 527 U. S. 815 (1999)

Opinion of the Court

while Fibreboard would contribute $10 million, all but $500,000 of it from other insurance proceeds, App. 84a. The negotiators also agreed to identify unsettled present claims against Fibreboard and set aside an as-then unspecified fund to resolve them, anticipating that the bulk of any excess left in that fund would be transferred to class claimants. Ahearn v. Fibreboard Corp., 162 F. R. D. 505, 517 (ED Tex. 1995). The next day, as a hedge against the possibility that the Global Settlement Agreement might fail, plaintiffs' counsel insisted as a condition of that agreement that Fibreboard and its two insurers settle the coverage dispute by what came to be known as the "Trilateral Settlement Agreement." The two insurers agreed to provide Fibreboard with funds eventually set at $2 billion to defend against asbestos claimants and pay the winners, should the Global Settlement Agreement fail to win approval. Id., at 517, 521; see also App. to Pet. for Cert. 492a.4

On September 9, 1993, as agreed, a group of named plaintiffs filed an action in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, seeking certification for settlement purposes of a mandatory class comprising three groups: all persons with personal injury claims against Fibreboard for asbestos exposure who had not yet brought suit or settled their claims before the previous August 27; those who had dismissed such a claim but retained the right to bring a future action against Fibreboard; and "past, present and future spouses, parents, children, and other relatives" of class mem-4 Two related settlement agreements accompanied the Global and Trilateral Settlement Agreements. The first, negotiated with representatives of Fibreboard's major codefendants, preserved credit rights for codefendant third parties, In re Asbestos Litigation, 90 F. 3d 963, 973 (CA5 1996); the second provided that final approval of the Global Settlement Agreement would not constitute a "settlement" under the Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act, 33 U. S. C. 933(g), 162 F. R. D., at 521-522. Neither of these agreements is before the Court.


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