Barraford v. T&N Ltd., No. 14-1281 (1st Cir. 2015)Annotate this Case
T&N Limited (T&N), an asbestos manufacturer, chose to address the liability it faced after the deadly qualities of asbestos were discovered through a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization plan (the Plan). Then Plan transferred to a Trust certain of T&N’s assets and rights, with which the Trust was to pay asbestos claims brought by persons who could have sued T&N but for T&N's bankruptcy. The Plan provided that T&N’s asbestos liability would continue after plan confirmation and that the Trust would bring asbestos suits against T&N as the agent of the actual claimants. In this lawsuit, the Trust brought an asbestos claim that had accrued a decade earlier. The district court dismissed the Trust’s suit on statute of limitations grounds, thus rejecting the Trust’s argument that it was allowed to bring asbestos claims that had not become stale prior to T&N’s filing for bankruptcy protection whenever it wished to do so. The First Circuit affirmed, holding that the Trust’s argument failed because the Plan unambiguously terminated the automatic stay and contained no provision that provided for any further tolling of the limitations period beyond that granted by the Bankruptcy Code.