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KEENE CHAIRMAN CALLS VERDICT IN BALTIMORE ASBESTOS CASE A MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE

 KEENE CHAIRMAN CALLS VERDICT IN BALTIMORE ASBESTOS CASE
 A MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE
 NEW YORK, July 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Glenn W. Bailey, chairman of Keene Corporation (NASDAQ: KEEN), today described the trial and verdict in the nation's largest consolidated case in Baltimore as "a miscarriage of justice."
 Keene is one of six remaining defendants in the trial. Its involvement in asbestos litigation is based on its $8 million acquisition of Baldwin-Ehret-Hill (BEH) in 1968. BEH, a manufacturer of ventilation systems, acoustical ceilings and thermal insulation products, had a small product line containing about 10 percent asbestos -- asbestos that BEH bought from Johns-Manville and the U.S. government in order to meet customers' specifications.
 Bailey made these points in his statement:
 -- The jury found that the manufacturing defendants should have warned about asbestos beginning in 1938. Actually, not until the mid- 1960s did Irving Selikoff, a leading asbestos medical researcher, issue the report of his findings that asbestos could be associated with health problems in workers who failed to properly protect themselves.
 Beginning in 1966, BEH provided protective CAUTION warnings on the packaging of its asbestos-containing products. This was two years before Keene acquired BEH, and a year before Keene was founded.
 -- Consolidating 8,555 cases strips Keene of its constitutionally protected right to a fair trial because the jury is overwhelmed with evidence and allegations that would not have been admissible in any single plaintiff's case. A jury has the impossible task of sorting out the facts and law in multiple cases that vary greatly in so many critical aspects -- a problem that caused United States District Judge William Butler in Alabama to throw out the jury's verdict in a consolidated asbestos case of only 13 plaintiffs because "the defendants did not receive a fair trial." Similarly, in refusing to consolidate asbestos cases in the state court in Chicago, Judge Dean Trafelet ruled that "nothing...is more important than preserving our court system and protecting the rights of litigants that enter the process."
 -- Judge Marshall Levin, who is presiding over the Baltimore consolidated trial, has permitted plaintiff lawyers to present their case to the jury based on the history of only six plaintiffs. Of the remaining 8,549 other claimants recruited by plaintiff attorneys and added to this case, 90 percent are not sick.
 -- Keene has been forced to spend $400 million on asbestos litigation to date. Of that $400 million, more than $270 million has gone to lawyers. Plaintiff lawyers in the Baltimore trial are expected to collect for themselves more than $100 million in fees as a result of the settlements already reached in that consolidated case.
 -- Keene will appeal any adverse ruling and is confident that its constitutional rights will be protected on appeal. (Note: One of Judge Levin's rulings has already been overturned. The Maryland Court of Special Appeals agreed with Keene that Judge Levin's prior restraint of Keene's First Amendment right to free speech was infringed when earlier in the Baltimore trial he limited Keene's ability to speak out publicly on issues of national concern.)
 In concluding his remarks, Bailey said, "When unconstitutional methods are employed by courts, it's no surprise juries make the wrong decision. When irrelevancies and prejudice are allowed in the court," he added, "it's no wonder juries get confused."
 -0- 7/15/92
 /CONTACT: Stuart Rickerson of Keene, 212-557-1900/
 (KEEN) CO: Keene Corporation ST: New York, Maryland IN: SU:


TQ-OS -- NY084 -- 9676 07/15/92 15:42 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jul 15, 1992
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