The Dana Corporation is a manufacturer of auto parts that has used a fair amount of asbestos in its day. This is not unusual; many automotive components, particularly gaskets and brake linings, made use of asbestos-containing materials (ACMs).
The facts that the company is facing 150,000 asbestos lawsuits, and that it has sought to protect itself by seeking refuge under a Chapter 11 “reorganization” plan, are not unusual, either. In October, 7,500 of those asbestos plaintiffs reached an agreement to settle prior to the confirmation of the Dana Corporation’s Chapter 11 plan. The $2 million dollar settlement would amount to a whopping $266.67 per person–of which they would receive roughly $180 each. An ad-hoc (“for the purpose at hand”) committee has now asked the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to reject the settlement unless the corporation provides additional documentation on the terms of the settlement.
A spokesperson for the committee issued the following statement: “The ad hoc committee and other parties in interest are entitled to full disclosure of all of the terms of the proposed settlements by reviewing the actual settlement agreements and should not be limited to relying on (Dana’s) description of some of the terms of the settlements.” The hearing, which was scheduled for Thursday, November 15, has been delayed in order to allow the committee to review such documents, should the Dana Corporation agree to provide them. The remainder of the asbestos claims will pass through the company’s bankruptcy process without changes. Under the known terms of the reorganization, creditors may recover approximately 79 cents on every dollar owed. Court documents indicate that only seven percent of the plaintiffs allege a diagnosis of mesothelioma or other asbestos-related cancer. However, living with what amounts to a ticking time bomb in one’s chest is difficult. And, because of the dysfunctional, for profit “health care system” in the U.S., those who are exposed face potential financial ruin should they develop a disease (even those who believe they are “insured”).