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JUDGE ISSUES TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER IN LIMITED FUND, MANDATORY SETTLEMENT CLASS-ACTION SUIT FILED BY KEENE

 NEW YORK, June 21 /PRNewswire/ -- U.S. District Judge Jack B. Weinstein today issued a temporary restraining order to stop Keene from making any further indemnity payments in asbestos-resulted cases, except those in cases "involving extreme hardship and exigent health conditions previously settled" to reduce a further drain on Keene's limited funds. Such a stay will provide Keene and class representatives of all claimants with a future opportunity to allocate these funds by settlement.
 Keene filed a class action lawsuit on May 13 in an effort to fairly allocate, by settlement, Keene's remaining funds of about $104 million among all competing claimants, including people suing Keene for injuries said to be caused by asbestos, suits alleging property damage for use of asbestos-containing building products and other claims.
 Judge Weinstein indicated that he would not interfere with cases that were already in trial at this time. Stuart Rickerson, vice president and general counsel of Keene, said he hoped all parties in pending litigation in which Keene is a party would cooperate with Judge Weinstein until a final determination is made in Keene's limited fund, mandatory settlement class action. Keene will ask judges around the country to defer the normal processing of cases to avoid unnecessary expenditure of judicial resources or of Keene's limited funds. "Otherwise, on-going activities will result in continuing legal expenses which otherwise could be available to compensate all those with claims against Keene's funds," Rickerson added.
 "This stay should reduce the amount of money drained from Keene's remaining assets by those in the front of the line at the expense of those who are a little farther back," said Rickerson. "The fact is Keene does not have enough money under the present circumstances to continue to resolve the 98,000 pending claims one at a time nor the new cases being filed at a rate of 2,000 per day while maintaining the company's viability." Rickerson said Keene has already paid out more than $447 million to settle and defend nearly 100,000 claims and these costs continue to run at about $1 million a week.
 Judge Weinstein previously appointed former federal Judge Marvin E. Frankel to conduct hearings on whether Keene qualifies as a limited fund. Those hearings have now been completed and a final report is expected by the end of June. However, Judge Frankel has stated that based on the proofs presented to him, he "would be prepared certainly as a preliminary matter and probably as a final matter to find that there has been showing that Keene is a limited fund."
 If Fudge Frankel's final report finds Keene has limited funds, and Judge Weinstein confirms that finding, Keene ought to be allowed to pursue a settlement to end all asbestos-related litigation against Keene for all time, to maximize the amount of Keene's remaining assets that can go to sick people and to avoid yet another asbestos-related bankruptcy filing, as has happened to 17 American companies to date. The jobs of Keene's employees and some of the investment of its shareholders would also be preserved under such a settlement, Rickerson noted.
 "The order issued today will assist Keene in achieving its long- standing commitment to provide fair compensation to claimants with asbestos-associated impairments - not to their attorneys, said Rickerson. "History shows that no company has done more than Keene to make the largest possible amount of money available for people sick with asbestos-associated illnesses."
 Rickerson said resolving all asbestos-related claims, under the federal limited fund, mandatory settlement class action procedure, is the best and most equitable alternative available for all claimants, both now and in the future.
 -0- 6/21/93
 /NOTE TO EDITORS: A copy of the restraining order is available upon request./
 /CONTACT: Stuart E. Rickerson, vice president - general council, 212-557-1900, Ext. 16, or Pat Pellerin, 202-337-5990, both for Keene/
 (KEEN)


CO: Keene Corporation ST: New York IN: SU:

LG-LR -- NY057 -- 4081 06/21/93 13:23 EDT
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Date:Jun 21, 1993
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