American companies mined over 800,000 tons of asbestos ore during a peak consumption period from the 1920s to the early-1980s. Asbestos was a highly-sought commodity used by hundreds of companies turning raw material into over 3,000 different finished products.
Many companies were negligent by failing to warn employees and end users about how dangerous asbestos exposure was to their long-term health.
Asbestos Victims Legal Rights
Innocent victims who developed asbestos-caused diseases like mesothelioma, lung cancer, and asbestosis were forced to sue asbestos producers, manufacturers, and suppliers for compensation.
Litigations included compensation claims for:
- Medical costs
- Lost income
- Specialized living equipment
- Personal injury damages for pain and suffering
Mass lawsuits forced many smaller, less-capitalized companies out of business. They weren’t able to cover court-ordered awards and filed for bankruptcy to liquidate assets and pay for settlements.
Larger companies with deep pockets took a different approach. They sought bankruptcy protection through the courts. This allowed time to restructure and use a specialized legal mechanism called trust accounts to limit responsibility and get on with profitable business.
Civil Court Bankruptcy Protection
The United States Bankruptcy Code (USBC) is a long and complicated piece of legislation. It’s an area where attorneys study for years and specialize in. The American asbestos disaster saw many companies use the Bankruptcy Code as a means to protect their long-term financial interests. The USBC also helped reduce their legal liability for causing so many people to become ill or die after being exposed to their asbestos-made products.
Most financial settlements for mesothelioma patients come from bankruptcy trust funds, rather than from awards decided by court verdicts.
There are two main mechanisms in the Bankruptcy Code that sufferers of mesothelioma and other asbestos-caused diseases need to know.
Asbestos producing and supplying companies had these two USBC options when facing lawsuits:
- Chapter 7 Liquidation: Insolvent companies were forced into bankruptcy liquidation when they had insufficient funds to cover lawsuit awards. Chapter 7 of the USBC forces a company to have a trustee sell all their assets and turn the funds over for court-ordered distribution. Asbestos companies dissolving under Chapter 7 liquidation disappear and have no value to current claimants for asbestos-related disease compensation.
- Chapter 11 Protection: Solvent companies used the USBC Chapter 11 provisions to stop ongoing lawsuits and take time to restructure the company in order to eventually make negotiated settlements while they carried on business. Some companies merged, rename or deregistered. However, big and wealthy corporations petitioned the courts for legal protection. The result was allowing financially-sound businesses to fund specialized trust accounts for present and future settlements. These settlement trust funds were administered by third-party trustee. The asbestos-supplying companies were no longer liable for damages, nor open to future lawsuits.
Over 100 asbestos bankruptcy trust funds have been established in the United States since the mid-1980s.
At least a dozen trust funds have equities exceeding $1 billion. In total, bankruptcy trust funds have approximately 30 billion dollars currently available for distribution to qualified applicants. Criteria for qualification depends on the individual trust fund and how it’s administered.
Asbestos bankruptcy trust funds are moving targets. Once an asbestos company funded the trust, they’re completely absolved of future responsibility. They cannot be sued. The trustee normally consists of a board of governors who invest the main funds in order to keep it solvent. The fund balance goes up and down depending on the investment returns and what claims are paid in a particular period.
Most asbestos bankruptcy trust funds have a schedule of values they pay to qualified claimants. Completely impaired claimants receive higher settlements that mildly-affected people. However, claimants are rarely paid the total value of what the schedule dictates. Many only receive dimes on the dollar according to what funds the trust retains and how they project future claims will need administering.
List of Solvent and Active Trust Fund Companies
Not every trust fund that was established remains active. Some trusts exhausted their funds and are now insolvent. They’ve been closed and deregistered. As well, some trusts are proposed but not yet defined by Chapter 11 restructuring. These are the top remaining an active asbestos bankruptcy trust funds.
The names of companies with over $1 billion in assets appear in bold.
- A-Best Products — A-Best Asbestos Settlement Trust
- A.P. Green Industries — APG Asbestos Trust
- A.B.B. Global Inc. — Lummus 524(g) Asbestos Personal Injury Trust
- A&I Corporation — A&I Corporation Asbestos Bodily Injury Trust
- A, C & S Inc. — A, C & S Asbestos Settlement Trust
- API, Inc. — API, Inc. Asbestos Settlement Trust
- Armstrong World Industries — AWI Inc. Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust
- ARTRA Group — ARTRA 524(g) Asbestos Trust
- Asarco, Inc. — ASARCO LLC Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust
- Asbestos Claims Management Corp./National Gypsum Company — NGC Bodily Injury Trust
- Babcock & Wilcox Company — Babcock & Wilcox Asbestos Trust
- Bondex — Bondex Trust
- Burns & Roe Enterprises Inc. — Burns& Roe Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement
- C.E. Thurston & Sons — C.E. Thurston & Sons, Inc. Asbestos Trust
- Celotex Corporation/Carey Canada, Inc. — Celotex Asbestos Settlement Trust
- Combustion Engineering — Combustion Engineering 524(g) Asbestos Personal Injury Trust
- Congoleum Corporation — Congoleum Plan Trust
- Dresser Industries — DII Industries LLC Asbestos Personal Injury Trust
- Eagle Pitcher Corporation — Eagle Pitcher Industries Persona Injury Settlement Trust
- EJ Bartels Co, Inc. — Bartels Asbestos Settlement Trust
- Federal Mogul Corp. — Federal Mogul U.S. Asbestos Personal Injury
- Fedodo — Federal-Mogul Asbestos Personal Injury Trust – Fedodo Subfund
- Flexitallic — Federal-Mogul Asbestos Personal Injury – Flexitallic Subfund
- Flintkote Co./Flintkote Mines Ltd. — Flintkote Company and Flintkote Mines Limited Asbestos Personal Injury Trust
- General Motors — MLC Asbestos Personal Injury Trust
- Global Industrial Technologies (Harbison-Walker) — DII Industries LLC Asbestos Personal Injury Trust
- G-1 Holdings — G-1 Asbestos Settlement Trust
- Hercules Chemical — Hercules Chemical Company Inc. Asbestos Settlement Trust
- H.K. Porter Co. Ltd. — H.K. Porter Asbestos Trust
- J.T. Thorpe (C.D. Cal) — J.T. Thorpe Settlement Trust
- J.T. Thorpe (S.D. Tex.) — J.T. Thorpe Company Successor Trust
- Johns-Manville Corp./Philadelphia Asbestos Corp. (Pacor) — Manville Personal Injury Settlement Trust
- Kaiser Aluminum Corp. — Kaiser Asbestos Personal Injury Trust
- Keene Corp. — Keene Creditors Trust
- Kentile — Metex Asbestos Personal Injury Trust
- Leslie Controls — Leslie Controls, Inc. Asbestos Personal Injury Trust
- MacArthur Co./Western Asbestos Company — Western Asbestos Settlement Trust
- National Gypsum — NGC Bodily Injury Trust
- North American Refractories Co. (NARCO) — North American Refractories Company Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust
- Owens Corning — Owens Corning Fiberboard Asbestos Personal Injury
- Pittsburgh Corning — Pittsburgh Corning Corporation Asbestos Personal Injury Trust
- Plant Insulation Company — Plant Insulation Company Asbestos Settlement Trust
- Pilbrico Co. — Pilbrico Asbestos Trust
- Porter-Hayden Co.— Porter-Hayden Bodily Injury Trust
- Quigley Co. — Quigley Co. Inc. Asbestos Personal Injury Trust
- Raymark Corp. Raytech Corp. — Raytech Corporation Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust
- Shook & Fletcher Insulation Co. — Shook & Fletcher Asbestos Settlement Trust
- Stone & Webster Engineering — Stone & Webster Asbestos Trust
- T.H. Agriculture & Nutrition — T.H. Agriculture & Nutrition LLC. Asbestos Personal Injury Trust
- Thorpe Insulation Co./Pacific Insulation Co. — Thorpe Insulation Company Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust
- Turner & Newall — Federal-Mogul Asbestos Personal Injury Trust – Turner & Newall Subfund
- United States Gypsum Co./USG Corp. — United States Gypsum Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust
- United States Mineral Products — US Mineral Products Company Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust
- UNR Industries/UNARCO Industries Inc. — UN Asbestos-Disease Personal Injury Trust
- W.R. Grace & Co. — WRG Asbestos Personal Injury Trust
- Yarway — Yarway Asbestos Personal Injury Trust
Accessing Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Funds
Identifying the company responsible for exposing workers to asbestos fibers is challenging. Developing a legitimate claim depends on proving that a certain workplace was the setting that caused a claimant’s disease is half of the battle. The other part is establishing that a specific manufacturer’s product was the culprit. Once that groundwork is set, an application to a trust fund has merit.
Mesothelioma attorneys have detailed information on what occupations, job sites, and asbestos products historically caused claimants to develop asbestos-related illnesses.
Building a trust fund access case takes experience outside the realm of regular personal injury litigation. Establishing circumstances that fit an overall negligence pattern is what experienced asbestos law firms do.
For more information on how you may have been exposed to asbestos that resulted in your diagnosis, contact our Justice Support Team today.