December 20, 2022

A Willkie team led by Rachel Strickland, Co-Chair of the Business Reorganization & Restructuring Department, and Joseph Baio, senior counsel in the Litigation Department, was recognized by The AmLaw Litigation Daily for scoring a major win for longtime client NARCO Asbestos Trust in a long-running dispute with Honeywell, resulting in court approval of a $1.325 billion “Buyout Agreement” with Honeywell and the Trust’s claimant fiduciaries to cover claims related to asbestos liabilities.

Under the parties’ agreement, approved by the court on December 8, Honeywell will pay the Trust $1.325 billion in cash in exchange for a release of its “evergreen” obligation to fund the Trust.  U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Thomas P. Agresti in the Western District of Pennsylvania issued the final opinion and order. The Buyout Agreement resolves more than seven years of disputes with Honeywell about the Trust’s administration and the payment will enable the Trust to continue to fully compensate asbestos victims, efficiently administer the Trust, and eliminate any potential future interference by Honeywell. 

In September 2021, Honeywell sued the Trust in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, alleging the Trust was paying too many asbestos claims in violation of the Trust’s governing documents.  In fewer than nine months, Willkie took or defended twenty-three depositions, filed and opposed numerous pre-trial motions, shepherded four expert reports, and received and produced voluminous document discovery.  During a one-week trial in May 2022, Willkie’s litigation team undermined each of Honeywell’s claims through pointed cross-examinations and affirmative testimony.  The $1.325 billion buyout is nearly half a billion dollars more than Honeywell had offered the Trust before filing its litigation last year.

A multidisciplinary team of Willkie attorneys, led by partner Rachel Strickland and senior counsel Joseph Baio, and including partners Daniel Forman and Stuart Lombardi, and associate Philip DiSanto, has represented the NARCO Asbestos Trust since 2015.  Willkie’s trial team also included partner Jeffrey Korn and associates Margot Mooney, Jordan Reisch, Annie Houghton-Larsen, Timothy Ryan, Joshua Pereira and Aleena Nasir.

Read more about the case and decision here.

Read The AmLaw Litigation Daily article here (subscription may be required).

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