It's an interesting opinion on the sufficiency of the allegations (which the firm denied). Here's the opening of the opinion:
FUENTES, Circuit Judge.
This putative class action lawsuit alleges that BASF Catalysts LLC and Cahill Gordon & Reindel conspired to prevent thousands of asbestos-injury victims from obtaining fair tort recoveries for their injuries. Decades ago, BASF’s predecessor, Engelhard Corp, discovered that its talc products contained disease-causing asbestos. Plaintiffs allege that, rather than confront the consequences of this discovery, Engelhard, with the help of its attorneys from Cahill, elected to pursue a strategy of denial and deceit. According to the complaint, Engelhard and Cahill collected the tests and reports that documented the presence of asbestos in Engelhard talc and they destroyed or hid them; when new plaintiffs focused on Engelhard’s talc as a possible cause of their disease, Engelhard represented that its talc did not contain asbestos and that no tests had ever said otherwise.
As pleaded, this lawsuit concerns years of purported deceit by Engelhard and Cahill. This action is not itself an asbestos injury case, but rather an action about Engelhard and Cahill’s conduct when they confronted asbestos injury cases in state courts around the country. The alleged scheme outlived most of the original plaintiffs, whose diseases have since taken their lives. It did not last forever. Spurred by recent testimony that Engelhard’s talc contained asbestos and that the company knew it, survivors and successors of the original asbestos-injury suits have brought new claims against Cahill and BASF, Engelhard’s successor. The crux of their complaint is that BASF and Cahill defrauded them in their initial lawsuits and caused them to settle or dismiss claims that they would otherwise have pursued.
The District Court dismissed plaintiffs’ complaint in its entirety. Analyzing the claims individually, the District Court determined that each was inadequately pled or barred by law. Analyzing the various declarations and injunctions requested by plaintiffs—ranging from an injunction against the future invocation of res judicata based on past state court judgments to a declaration that BASF and Cahill committed fraud—the District Court dismissed them as beyond its power to grant. The Court did, however, reject defendants’ argument that the Rooker-Feldman doctrine deprived it of jurisdiction. Plaintiffs have appealed the dismissal of three claims: fraud, fraudulent concealment, and violation of the New Jersey Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. Plaintiffs also defend their requested relief.
We conclude that the District Court erred when it dismissed the fraud and fraudulent concealment claims. The Amended Class Action Complaint properly alleges the elements of fraud and fraudulent concealment—namely that BASF and Cahill lied about and destroyed the asbestos evidence to plaintiffs’ detriment. Neither the New Jersey litigation privilege nor pleading requirements stand in the way of these claims.
The District Court did not err in dismissing the New Jersey RICO claim. Plaintiffs, obliged to plead an injury to their business or property, have not done so. They have alleged an injury to the prosecution of their earlier lawsuits which, under New Jersey law, does not constitute an injury to their property.
Lastly, the District Court correctly discerned that it could not grant plaintiffs all of their requested relief. To the extent that plaintiffs attempt to have the District Court decide, at this point, the statute of limitations, laches, and preclusion issues that will likely arise in future cases, plaintiffs fail to present at Court with a whole or ripe controversy. Plaintiffs may, however, seek injunctive and declaratory relief aimed at resolving the claims alleged.
Accordingly, we reverse in part, affirm in part, and remand for further proceedings.