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Pretzel & Stouffer Recovers $30 million for Client in Binding Arbitration

Edward B. Ruff, IIIMichael P. Turiello and Mary H. Cronin of Pretzel & Stouffer, Chartered obtained an award in the amount of $29,781,030 plus interest in favor the distributor of Stand ‘n Seal Spray-on Grout Sealer, Roanoke Companies Group, Inc. against the manufacturer Aerofil Technology, Inc. in an action seeking contribution an indemnity for settlement amounts paid on its behalf and in defense of The Home Depot, U.S.A. in the In re Stand ‘n Seal Products Liability Multidistrict Litigation (MDL-1804). Roanoke was awarded $7,343,751 indemnity for settlement payments made and $20,708,811 in fees and costs incurred in the underlying multidistrict litigation, as well as $1,728,468 in fees and costs from the arbitration proceedings. This award represents the culmination of nearly a decade of litigation surrounding the recall of Stand ‘n Seal. In the In re Stand ‘n Seal MDL, more than 200 individuals asserted significant respiratory injuries, including two deaths, after the manufacturers of Stand ‘n Seal, an aerosolized grout sealant, changed the chemical formulation in February of 2005, but failed to disclose the change to Roanoke, Home Depot or the consuming public. In that litigation, Roanoke, Home Depot and Aerofil entered into an agreement to litigate all claims for contribution and indemnity against one another in a single binding arbitration proceeding before the American Arbitration Association (’AAA’) after the last plaintiff’s case resolved. The Pretzel & Stouffer team, led by Mr. Ruff successfully defended Roanoke at trial in Arizona and in the Northern District of Georgia, and following the settlement of the final underlying claims, filed an action against Aerofil with AAA seeking to recover settlement amounts and fees paid defending Roanoke and Home Depot.

A two-week hearing was held in San Francisco before a single arbitrator, the Honorable Vaughn R. Walker, former Chief Judge of the Federal District Court for the Northern District of California. Judge Walker’s award, which with interest exceeds $30 million, supports Roanoke’s claims of limited culpability, assigning near total responsibility to Aerofil. Walker noted that Roanoke’s defense team was successful in the underlying litigation due to ’able and successful lawyering’ by Ruff’s team.

’At all times, the Pretzel & Stouffer lawyers and their team conducted themselves professionally, reasonably and with apparent efficiency,’ Walker wrote. ’Despite the matter being hard fought, these attorneys avoided unnecessary disputes and distractions with opposing counsel, met all deadlines and cooperated with the arbitrator and the arbitration process.’

“We are pleased to see the responsibility for this incident appropriately decided and for our client’s name to be restored,” Ruff says.

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About Pretzel & Stouffer’s Complex Litigation Team

Pretzel & Stouffer, Chartered’s complex litigation team, led by Edward B. Ruff III, has developed a national practice in the representation of manufacturers and all those in the distributive chain. The team of trial-tested attorneys, including Ruff’s colleagues Michael P. Turiello and Mary Helen Cronin, specializes in high-risk, national-scope mass tort and multi-district litigation.

May 2015 | Firm News