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Asbestos fibers have been associated with disease for decades and have been the subject of litigation in the U.S. since the 1930s. Since the late 1970s, thousands of people exposed to asbestos have been diagnosed with asbestos-related diseases, and the number of lawsuits filed has grown significantly. Rather than pay claims of questionable merit and spend enormous amounts of money in their defense of the claims, many of the companies that were involved with and/or manufactured asbestos-related products have sought Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

As part of the Chapter 11 filing process, companies submit their reorganization plan to the court and to their creditors. Most companies decide to set up settlement trusts as part of the plan. These trusts process, liquidate, and pay all valid asbestos personal injury claims according to procedures approved by the bankruptcy court. Many of the companies have substantial amounts of insurance and through these trusts essentially contribute those funds to pay the claims.

One of the advantages of the trust is that individuals without malignancies will be able to seek additional funds should their conditions change or become more severe. Thus far, the trusts that have emerged from the bankruptcies are not distributing funds to the unimpaired, preserving greater amounts for those who deserve compensation.

The disadvantage of the bankruptcy proceedings is the amount of time it can take to bring most of these companies through Chapter 11. It means that you will probably continue to receive funds on a periodic basis over the next several years.

The following provides you with information about current litigation affecting our clients and the status of many bankrupt companies. If you have any questions, please contact us.

The following is the latest information we have on bankrupt companies that may be of particular interest to you. If you have any questions, please contact us.

As of June 2006

Asbestos litigation has changed dramatically over the last several years. Even though there are advertisements in the media paid for by companies seeking congressional relief claiming that the Courts are clogged with asbestos claims, there are actually fewer claims being filed in Court. Other than the cases that were stayed in Philadelphia, there are very few cases pending in courts throughout the country. This is due in large part to the number of companies that have sought Bankruptcy or Chapter 11 protection in the last six years. At this point, there are approximately 35 companies in Chapter 11. Many of these companies have significant assets in the form of insurance and corporate assets, which are going to be the subject of distribution by the Bankruptcy Court, similar to the Manville claims that were filed on your behalf. Many of the bankrupt companies will be using centers such as that established by Manville to distribute funds in a manner similar to the Manville claim process.

Some of the cases that have been pursued by our office and were transferred to Multi-District Litigation remain in Philadelphia. The claims in Philadelphia had one or two defendants remaining and those companies have now sought Chapter 11 protection. For those cases that were pending in the Multi-District Litigation, the claims that remain as to the bankrupt companies will now be able to be resolved through emerging trust distribution procedures.

Most of our clients have claims that remain as to one or more of the companies that are currently in bankruptcy. As those companies emerge, claim forms will be submitted on behalf of anyone who was exposed to that company's products. It is likely that most of the trusts will have specific payments based upon the nature of the diagnosis, for example, malignant and nonmalignant claims. The following companies have trusts that are in place at this time: National Gypsum/Asbestos Claims Management Corporation, Western Asbestos, Celotex, Eagle-Picher, E.J. Bartells, H.K. Porter, J.T. Thorpe, and Shook & Fletcher. The manner in which each of these trusts operates is different. Some of them have been extremely difficult, and make the claims process extremely cumbersome, for example, National Gypsum.

The Halliburton (Dresser/Worthington Pump) trust has dismissed their claims processing facility, the same used for the National Gypsum claims. Submission of claims is currently suspended as to Halliburton, but when the process begins again, appropriate claims will be submitted.

The Babcock & Wilcox Company and the Keene Corporation have selected their claims processing facilities. Most individuals who were exposed to asbestos products were exposed to boilers manufactured by Babcock & Wilcox. Keene Corporation had extremely limited responsibility for asbestos-containing products, primarily as successor to companies such as Mundet. It is likely that these companies will begin accepting claims within the next 90 to 120 days. We will make every effort to keep you advised as to the emerging facilities and new claim procedures. Over the next 12 to 24 months, there is a significant likelihood that trusts will be established for Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation, Armstrong World Industries, Turner & Newell (a significant supplier of asbestos fiber to a number of companies), North American Refractories, Pittsburgh Corning, Combustion Engineering, and U.S. Gypsum.

Owens Corning and Fibreboard Corporation are in the process of voting as regards to the approval of a trust plan and may well be processing claims within the next 12 to 24 months. We are unable to predict at this time when companies such as W.R. Grace, Quigley/Pfizer, Congoleum Corporation, ACandS, Inc., A.P. Green, Flexitallic, Flintkote, and U.S. Mineral will be establishing trust distribution procedures.

We may be contacting you regarding additional medical examinations, product identification, or other materials that may be necessary to submit these claims. Most claims will require little, if any, additional material. In most instances, attorney fees are limited by the trust, and the costs of submitting claims, if any, is extremely small.

Anne Chappelle recently attended the asbestos conference in Florida, and the information provided in this Latest Litigation News section was obtained in large part from her attendance at that conference.

Below, we provide the status of many bankrupt companies. If you have questions about these companies or others not listed here, please contact us.

ACTIVE BANKRUPTCIES
(as of June 2002)

Amatex Filed for bankruptcy in November 1982.  
Submitting only mesothelioma-related cases because of strict PID criteria and low settlement values.

Celotex

Accepting and paying claims.

Eagle-Picher Accepting and paying claims.
Forty-Eight Insulations

Filed for bankruptcy in 1985.
Proofs of claims are filed by October of each even-numbered year.
Claims filed after 1995 are being paid in odd-numbered years.

HK Porter Filed for bankruptcy in August 1982.
Accepting and paying claims.
Johns-Manville Corporation Accepting and paying claims at 5%.
UNR Accepting and paying claims (must file within applicable statute of limitations).

BANKRUPTCIES FOR OTHER COMPANIES
(
as of June 2002)

AC and S, Inc. Filed for bankruptcy in September 2002.
A.P. Green Industries, Inc. Filed for bankruptcy on February 14, 2002.
Armstrong World Filed for bankruptcy on December 6, 2000.
Asbestos Claims Management (National Gypsum Company)  
Babcock & Wilcox Filed for bankruptcy on February 22, 2000.
E.J. Bartells Finalizing distribution process.
GAF Corporation Filed for bankruptcy on January 5, 2001.
Gatke Bankrupt and not an active company.
Harbison-Walker Filed for bankruptcy on February 14, 2002.
Kaiser Aluminum & Chemical Corporation Filed for bankruptcy in 2002.
Keene Corporation Filed for bankruptcy in December 1993.
Awaiting plan finalization.
M.H. Detrick Filed for bankruptcy on January 13, 1991.
Confirmed plan approved in January 2001.
Finalizing distribution plan.
NARCO Filed for bankruptcy on January 4, 2002.
Nicolet Bankrupt and not an active company.
Owens Corning/Fibreboard Filed for bankruptcy on October 5, 2000.
Paycor Bankrupt and not an active company.
Pittsburgh Corning Corporation Filed for bankruptcy on April 16, 2000.
Finalizing distribution plan.
Raytech Finalizing distribution plan.
Rose City Please see United States Gypsum Company.
Standard Asbestos Manufacturing Bankrupt and not an active company.
Synkoloid Filed for bankruptcy the week of June 3, 2002.
Turner & Newell (Federal Mogul), 160 subsidiaries Filed for bankruptcy on October 1, 2001.
United States Gypsum Company Filed for bankruptcy on June 25, 2001.
United States Mineral Products Company Filed for bankruptcy on July 23, 2001.
W.R. Grace & Company Filed for bankruptcy on April 2, 2001.

 
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