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A federal judge is expected to consolidate 65,000 asbestos claims against Eagle-Picher Industries Inc. in a controversial step toward settling the nation's biggest product liability issue, lawyers said.

But victims' attorneys said Sunday they would move immediately to appeal a class-action order by U.S. District Judge Jack B. Weinstein and try to block a proposed settlement plan they say provides inadequate compensation.

Under the proposal, Eagle-Picher would place $625 million over 20 years into a settlement trust fund that also would contain at least 25 percent of Eagle-Picher stock.

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