A federal judge and the Maryland Court of Appeals refused separate attempts Friday to block tomorrow's scheduled start of a consolidated asbestos trial that involves 8,600 cases in Baltimore Circuit Court.
Senior Judge Edward S. Northrup of the U.S. District Court denied a motion filed by one of the defendants, Toledo-based Owens-Illinois Inc., which argued that the consolidated trial of thousands of cases could not result in a binding judgment and that the process allowing punitive damages violates due process of law.
Judge Northrup said in a harsh opinion that the company had had a chance to challenge the consolidated trial in a state court "instead of running to another forum like a child hoping to play one parent off against the other."
He said the giant glassmaker's argument that the matter is a federal issue was "shaky at best" and said Owens-Illinois' last-minute motion filed last week was an attempt to "thwart Maryland state justice" with its appeal.
Meanwhile, the Maryland Court of Appeals denied a motion by five companies to delay the start of the trial.
The companies were Armstrong World Industries, GAF Corp., Quigley Corp., U.S. Gypsum Co. and Owings-Corning Fiberglas.
"We reviewed it. We discussed it. We denied it," said Chief Judge Robert C. Murphy.